With the Knights picking up their first victory of the season last week in a 38-34 non-district win over Class 1A Le Mars Gehlen, the 0-8 Braves were determined to pocket a victory for their first win of the season, but it was not to be as Unity Christian answered Cherokee scores throughout with lengthy zingers of their own to take command and hang on tight for the 7-point victory.
Cherokee started the scoring when quarterback Levi Lundquist recovered from a broken play to skirt the end for a 16-yard TD run early in the first quarter. Two possessions later, Lundquist hooked up with the speedy Zac Taylor in the flat and Taylor zoomed 60 yards untouched to paydirt to give the Braves a 13-0 lead.
The Braves opened the second period with Lundquist connecting with Taylor again on a 26-yard TD pass play, with Taylor sidestepping a Knight defender to sprint into the endzone for a 20-7 Cherokee lead.
The Knights again wasted no time and answered back on the ensuing kick-off for a 78-yard TD run by Logan Schoonhoven, followed by a 43-yard TD pass from Hoekstra to Dalton De Haan that gave the Knights a 21-20 halftime lead and took a lot of wind out of the Braves' sails.
The Knights then iced it on a three-yard QB sneak by Hoekstra late in the game.
The Braves rushed the ball 39 times for 159 yards, with Luke Zeimen leading the way with 19 carries for 106 yards. UC rushed 44 times for 200 yards, wiith Hoekstra rushing seven times for 79 yards, and Aaron Van Whye 15 hauls for 74 yards.
Lundquist completed 8-17 passes for Cherokee for three TDs and one interception, and Hoekstra was 2-3 for 78 yards and two TDs.
Zac Taylor paced Cherokee receivers with three catches for 118 yards and two TDs.
"I'm very proud of the kids," said Cheroke coach Travis Schipper. "We could have packed it in and never did. That's a credit to them. They kept battling and doing what we asked. It just wasn't meant to be. You can't question our effort or desire.
"Senior Kyle Comstock battled injuries throughout his career and did whatever we asked. He finally got to play late this season and did a great job with his assignments and did some great blocking for us tonight. We're so thankful for all our seniors and the price they paid and the job they did. They never quit and battled to the end. We didn't have the best results but what a great group of kids they are."