ROOSEVELT — Union (3-0, 7-2) saw its turnaround season take another step forward Friday as the top-ranked Cougars provided a dramatic come-from-behind victory before a packed homecoming crowd.
The 40-35 win and Park City's victory over Wasatch ensure the Cougars at least a share of the Region 10 title when the Cougs and Wasps face off at Wasatch next week. Quite a difference from a year ago when Union went winless in region play.
"Coach (Doug) Bills has done a helluva job," said Union quarterback Rhen Richard. "He took a bunch of kids who didn't know how to win and made us believe. We had the talent, but didn't know how to win."
It was Bills who gave his dejected team a pep talk in the locker room at half time. Down 21-12, Bills reminded his team that the win was not out of reach.
"I told them we had dropped three touchdown passes and just needed to make some adjustments and we could still win," said Bills. "We got our defense to step up and our offense continued to do what it has all season."
Led by Richard, Union outscored Judge 28-14 in the second half. Two of the scores came off the Cougars' first two drives to swing the momentum to Union's side. The first was a 17-yard run by Richard and the extra point by David Gilbert. Richard then played defense and got the ball back on his sideline with an interception of his counterpart Joe Pond. Kaden Richard eventually marched in for the score and then converted the two-point conversion with a run to give Union its first lead at 27-21.
After scores by both teams, Judge regained the lead, but Union took over with 5:14 left to play and drove the field before capping off the drive with a 30-yard pass.
The loss was the second in a row for the Bulldogs (1-2, 6-2), who were ranked first and undefeated a week ago.
"This is the second week in a row that we've killed ourselves with turnovers," said Judge coach James Cordova. "You just can't do that and win games. Rhen Richard is an outstanding player, amazing."