Hudson senior defensive lineman Chas Larson had a simple answer for how his team held the Big Rivers Conference's highest scoring team -- Menomonie - to just six points Thursday night.
"They hadn't played the best defense in the conference yet," he stated.
Menomonie entered the game averaging 31 points in its previous three outings, but the Raiders held the Indians to 85 rushing yards and nine first downs while dominating the line of scrimmage on their way to a 20-6 victory. It's the second straight win for Hudson over Menomonie and moved them into a first place tie with the Indians for first place in the BRC at 4-1.
"What a great football game from start to finish," Hudson coach Adam Kowles said. "Both teams really played hard the entire game. It's such a huge win for us because of the caliber of team that Menomonie is year in and year out."
The Raiders forced Menomonie to punt on the opening possession of the game, then went right to work on offense, marching 63 yards to score on a one-yard sneak by quarterback Beau Hommes. Jake Denison added the kick and the Raiders led 7-0.
Defensive back Jake Hayes came up with the defense's first big play of the night on the ensuing possession when he dove in front of a Menomonie receiver for an interception at the Indians' 40.
"I thought our defense was outstanding again. That's a very good offense that they have over there, and to limit them to six points is phenomenal, especially since their one score was set up by a blocked punt."
Hudson was forced to punt and the Indians blocked the kick and ran it down to the Raider 16 to set up their only score of the night, a 5-yard touchdown run by Joey Neeb. But the extra point attempt was wide right.
Hudson's special teams set up the Raiders' next touchdown when they recovered a muffed punt at the Menomonie 34. Hommes hit Derek Krumrei with a pass to take it down to the 15, ten carried the ball to the three before Travis Hilden scored and Denison added the kick to extend the Raider lead to 14-6.
Menomonie threatened in the third quarter by driving to the Raider 31. But the Raider defense stepped up and on 4th-and-13 at the 34, defensive back Ryan Hanson knocked down a pass at the goal line to end the Indians' threat.
Menomonie picked up a big first down late in the game to get to midfield, but Raider defensive back Michael Bennett ended the threat and all but sealed the win with an interception at his own 30 with 1:44 remaining.
Hudson took three straight knees to try and run out the clock but were left on fourth down with four seconds remaining and the prospect of giving the ball back to Menomonie. Hommes handed off to Hilden to try and eat the remaining time, and Hilden went around the left end and found no Indians in front of him, going 54 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game.
Kowles said the Raiders had no intention of scoring a touchdown on the play.
"We thought we would be able to run out the clock by taking three knees but we were left with four seconds on fourth down, which is way too much time to take a knee," he said. "If we did, they would have gotten the ball back in our territory with time for one play. I wanted to run a sweep so that it would take at least four seconds, and we turned the corner and nobody was there. We definitely were not trying to score and had to run a play to run the clock out."
Hilden finished with 81 yards and two touchdowns in just six carries. Andy Edholm led the Raider rushing attack with 93 yards in 24 attempts and was key in helping the Raiders hold an over 12-minute advantage in time of possession.
"The offense took some strides this week," Kowles said. "I was pleased with our execution for the most part, but penalties really killed us again. We need to be much more disciplined as we move forward."
Arthur Vinzant finished with nine tackles and Larson had eight to lead the defense. Both players made five solo stops while Larson also had a sack. Menomonie was just 2-of-10 on third down conversions and 2-of-6 on fourth down.
The Raiders next contest will be at home Friday, Oct. 16 against Eau Claire North. Game time is 7 p.m.