Raiders strike early, often
How fast a start did the Raider football team get off to Friday night?
The student section at Newton Field was still celebrating the crowning of Dena DuCharme as 2012 Homecoming queen when their classmates gave them plenty more to cheer about.
The Raiders scored on their first offensive possession of the game and exploded for 28 first-quarter points on their way to a 49-14 rout of Eau Claire North in the annual Homecoming contest.
The victory improved the Raiders' record to 4-0 overall and kept them tied with Menomonie for first place in the Big Rivers Conference at 3-0 in league play.
Raider head coach Adam Kowles said his team fed off the enthusiasm of the home crowd early and kept it up through the fourth quarter.
"It was a tremendous atmosphere for homecoming, and I think that the guys really used that energy on the field," Kowles said. "What I was pleased to see was that everyone contributed, and I thought the guys played hard for the entire game."
The Raiders got the crowd fired up right away when Stuart Burns and Ethan Stanchik teamed up to smother the Husky punter at the Eau Claire North 11-yard line after a bad snap on the opening possession. Quarterback Mike Hommes took the Raiders' first snap from scrimmage and kept the ball for an 11-yard touchdown run and Sam Somerville added the extra point for a quick 7-0 Raider lead.
Two possessions later, Hommes hit Chuck Peterson with a 40-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0.
Wade Malecha bulled over from a yard out to cap the Raiders' next possession, before Ian Zastrow stepped in under center and found Peterson again wide open behind the Husky secondary for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
And just like that, the Raiders had a 28-0 lead.
Hudson kept rolling when Alex Paulson broke loose for a 27-yard touchdown run to make it a 35-0 game less than two minutes into the second quarter.
After North got on the board with a touchdown midway through the second quarter to make it a 35-7 score at halftime, Joe Kelly got the fireworks going again when he returned the second half kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, Hudson's second kickoff return for a score this season.
"Special teams got another return which was huge," Kowles said. "What goes unnoticed at times is the blocking on big returns or runs, but everyone did their job to be able to spring it."
Malecha scored his second touchdown of the game, from 4 yards out, with 58 seconds left in the third quarter to extend the Raider lead to 49-7 before North got a fourth-quarter score to make the final 49-14.
The Raiders averaged five yards per carry as nine different runners carried the ball 40 times for a total of 200 yards. Paulson was the team's top rusher with 65 yards in eight attempts while Austin Koski carried the ball seven times for 46 yards.
Hommes completed his only pass attempt, the 40-yard touchdown strike to Peterson, while Zastrow was 2-for-3 passing for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Zach Kraft had a team-high five tackles and Alex Burgess had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery, while Ross Wusterbarth and Gabe Zastrow had one sack apiece and Lucas Traynor picked off a Husky pass.
"We did a really nice job on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and that is the name of the game," Kowles said. "There were definitely some mistakes, though, and we need to clean it up and continue to improve each week."
The Raiders hit the road for two straight games beginning this Friday, Sept. 21, at Eau Claire Memorial (2-1 BRC, 2-2 overall). They travel to Superior Friday, Sept. 28, before returning home to host River Falls in the annual battle for the Little Brown Jug Friday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m.
@prt:EC North 0 7 0 7--14
Raiders 28 7 14 0--49
@stt:HUD--Mike Hommes 11-yard run (Sam Somerville kick), 10:33.
HUD--Chuck Peterson 40-yard pass from Hommes (Somerville kick), 6:40.
HUD--Wade Malecha 1-yard run (Somerville kick), 4:05.
HUD--Peterson 30-yard pass from Ian Zastrow (Somerville kick), 0:22.
@stt:HUD--Alex Paulson 27-yard run (Somerville kick), 10:28.
ECN--Anthony Miloszewicz pass from Adam Faanes (Jared Bollinger kick), 6:05.
@stt:HUD--Joe Kelly 83 yard kickoff return (Somerville kick), 11:47.
HUD--Malecha 4-yard run (Somerville kick), 0:58.
@stt:ECN--Deion Sonsalla 4-yard pass from Faanes (Bollinger kick), 7:15.
@stt:RUSHING (att-yds):Alex Paulson 8-65; Austin Koski 7-46; Blake Amborn 3-28; Mike Hommes 4-18; Joe Kelly 3-15; Wade Malecha 7-15; Ian Zastrow 3-3; Hunter Frey 2-1; Landry Otten 1-(-3). Total 40-200.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yds): Mike Hommes 1-1-0-40; Ian Zastrow 2-3-0-37. Total 3-4-0-77.
RECEIVING (rec-yds): Chuck Peterson 2-70; Bryce Arend 1-7.
TACKLES: Zach Kraft 5, Gabe Zastrow 4, Ross Wusterbarth 4, Alex Burgess 3, Dan Kelly 3, Nick Bloomberg 3, Ethan Stanchik 2, Cal Johnson 2, Wes Korum 2, Lewis Weichmann 2, Stuart Burns 1, Dillon Magadanz 1, Jake Shaw 1, Lonnie Meinke 1, Ryan Widmyer 1, Brett Busson 1, Derek Johnston 1, Lucas Traynor 1.
SACKS: Alex Burgess, Ross Wusterbarth, Gabe Zastrow.
INTERCEPTIONS: Lucas Traynor.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Alex Burgess.
FORCED FUMBLES: Alex Burgess.