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Raiders power past Rapids

Raider junior quarterback Davy Branson runs for a gain of 34 yards in the second quarter of Hudson's 21-13 win over Wisconsin Rapids Friday night at Newton Field. Branson finished with 83 yards rushing and two touchdown passes in the Raiders' season-opening victory. Photo by Bob Burrows1 / 2
Hudson senior Chas Larson (9) puts a hit on Wisconsin Rapids quarterback Brady Goska as teammates Peter Worrell (99) and Tyler Smrcina (22) move in to help out in the Raiders' 21-13 win over the Red Raiders Friday night at Newton Field. Larson finished with a team-high eight tackles. Photo by Bob Burrows2 / 2

The scoreboard and clock at Newton Field never worked during Friday night's Raider football team's season opener against Wisconsin Rapids, and that was just fine with Hudson head coach Adam Kowles.

"That's kind of how we want to play," Kowles said. "Don't worry about the score or the time, just keep playing hard until the final whistle."

The Raiders did just that, battling back from an early 7-0 deficit to take a 14-13 halftime lead, then tacking on a late touchdown to defeat the Red Raiders, 21-13.

The game was played without power to the stadium for most of the first quarter after a tree branch fell on a power line, taking out electricity to most of the neighborhood around Newton Field. Power was restored late in the first quarter, just in time for the stadium lights and public address system to work, but the scoreboard and clock never recovered and the game time was kept by the referee on the field.

"I've see the scoreboard malfunction for part of a game before, but not the entire game," Kowles said. "It was tough on both teams to not know the exact time of the game."

In the end, the Raiders used a strong second-half defense and a pair of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Davy Branson to post their first win of the season.

"The defense really dug in during the second half, which was a key to the game," Kowles said. "I don't know how many first downs Rapids had in the second half but it could not have been many.

The Red Raiders recorded just two first downs in the second half and just seven for the game, one coming on their first possession of the third quarter.

Rapids struck first with a 36-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bobby Blom on their first possession of the game. Hudson answered with and 1-yard keeper by quarterback Beau Hommes on a 4th-and-goal with 12 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the score, 7-7.

Wisconsin Rapids regained the lead on a 7-yard run by Brady Goska but the missed extra point left the score at 13-7.

Hudson came right back and after Branson ran for a first down at the Rapids 26, he hit running back Tyler Smith at the goal line and Smith won the battle in the air with a Red Raider defender for a 26-yard scoring strike. Jake Dension added the extra point and the Raiders had the lead for good, 14-13.

Both defenses stiffened in the second half while Hudson clung to its one-point lead. Rapids went for it on 4th-and-9 near midfield with about four minutes remaining in the game but the snap sailed high over Goska's head and he was sacked by Chas Larson way back at the Wisconsin Rapids 26.

On first down, Spencer Korum took the ball down to the six, and on the very next play Branson hit Travis Hilden in the right corner of the end zone and the extra point was good to give the Raiders an eight-point cushion, 21-13, with 2:45 remaining.

After stopping Rapids again on 4th-and-3 from its own 35, Korum carried the ball down to the eight before Branson took a knee to end the game.

Kowles said he's happy with the win, but there's still plenty of work to do.

"There will be some growing pains with running a new offense," he said. "We made some mistakes with some play calls and executing on the field, but there are definitely some positives that we'll be able to take away from the game. Most importantly, we didn't turn the ball over. We can win some games by playing great defense and hanging onto the football."

The Raiders forced one Wisconsin Rapids turnover--a first-quarter interception by Mike Bennett.

Branson finished with a team-high 83 yards rushing on 19 carries while Korum carried the ball six times for 70 yards. Branson also completed 4-of-8 pass attempts for 52 yards and two touchdowns.

Chas Larson keyed the Raider defense with eight tackles and two sacks while Arthur Vinzant finished with six tackles and Ethan Dinauer had five.

"Overall, it was a typical opener, except for the power outage of course," Kowles said. "Some good things and some bad, but plenty of things to work on before we take the field again. The best thing is that the guys played hard from start to finish, and we can hang our hat on that."

The Raiders return to action Friday night, Sept. 4 at Somerset at 7 p.m.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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