The Titans were ahead by four at halftime, but by the time the game was over they had won the state crown by beating the Vikings 52-20.
TACOMA — As time ticked, Union got stronger.
State football championships
Class 4A: Union 52, Lake Stevens 20
Class 3A: Eastside Catholic 31, O'Dea 13
Class 2A: Hockinson 42, Lynden 37
Class 1A: Colville 48, Newport 7
Class 2B: Kalama 34, Napavine 25
Class 1B: Odessa 63, ACH 12
And by the second half of their Class 4A state championship game on Saturday night, the top-seeded Titans (14-0) were ready to flex.
The Titans stalled the third-seeded Lake Stevens offense in the second half and continued to score itself, leaving the Tacoma Dome with a 52-20 win and the program’s first state football title.
“This is so special,” Titans senior quarterback Lincoln Victor said. “It’s one of those things you only dream about. You know, guys driving down I-5 and taking a picture of the Dome. To be able to be in here and win this, is so crazy and an unbelievable feeling. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on a Saturday night.”
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Union from Vancouver forced Lake Stevens into three turnovers on downs in the second half and a scoreless final two quarters. The Vikings (13-1) entered the game unbeaten and averaging 48.2 points per game.
The Titans stretched their four-point halftime lead with 8:37 left in the third quarter. Senior quarterback Lincoln Victor hit senior Jojo Siofele for a short pass, and he took it 56 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. The play put Union up 31-20.
Lake Stevens couldn’t move the ball on its ensuing possession, turning it over on downs. Victor and Siofele connected again, this time 10 yards for a 38-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Siofele caught 10 passes for 179 yards and three scores. He also rushed for 113 yards and a score on five carries.
“Momentum,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said of the change in the game. “We marched down the field in the third quarter and turned the ball over. Our second drive had a couple of penalties we couldn’t overcome. Another turnover in the fourth quarter, and then our kids stopped playing hard. That’s the most unfortunate and disappointing part about the night for me. … You get punched in the mouth, you’ve got to get back up. I would’ve liked to see our kids do a better job of that in the second half.”
Lake Stevens was playing in the program’s first state-championship game since 1994, when it lost to O’Dea 7-6 for the Class 3A title. In 1985, the program lost to Shelton 21-12 for the state crown.
Tri faced a close friend in Union coach Rory Rosenbach. The latter once coached at Glacier Peak, and the friends played each other in nonleague games.
After Saturday’s game, Rosenbach leads the head-to-head matchup 4-1. His Titans amassed 554 total offensive yards on Saturday. Victor completed 19 of 24 passes for 327 yards with one interception and five touchdowns.
“They’ll be back,” Rosenbach said of Tri and Lake Stevens. “Their (offensive) line really made me nervous all week. But these guys just balled out. They showed up.”
Union had little experience in playing for state football titles. The Titans lost a Class 3A state championship 35-6 to Bellevue in 2008, its second year as a program.
Lake Stevens scored first on a 15-yard run by junior Dallas Landeros. But senior kicker Brock Widmann missed the extra point for a 6-0 lead with 4:47 left in the opening quarter.
Union wasted no time in kicking up the pace. It used two plays and 34 seconds to get its first touchdown on the board — a 20-yard scoring pass from Victor to senior Darien Chase.
The Vikings responded with a three-play, 90-second scoring drive. Senior quarterback Tre Long threw a 26-yard rainbow pass over the Union defense to junior Kasen Kinchen in the right corner of the end zone for a 13-7 lead.
The teams traded rushing touchdowns before a 23-yard touchdown pass from Victor to Siofele moved the Titans ahead 21-20 with 8:01 left in the half.
Lake Stevens showed some defensive moxie, getting Union to turn the ball over on downs after an eight-play, 53-yard drive. But a pass-interference penalty called on Kinchen to end the half helped set up a 34-yard field goal on an untimed down.
Union senior Alex Koga made the kick to give his team a 24-20 lead at halftime.
“They came out a lot stronger than we thought,” said Long, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 313 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. “They did their thing. They’re a good team.”