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Defense comes to Raiders' rescue

Raider wide receiver Zach Beinlich hauls in a pass from quarterback Davy Branson for an apparent touchdown Friday night in Somerset, but the play was called back when Beinlich was called for offensive pass interference.

While the Raiders' offense struggled to find its rhythm Friday night in Somerset, the defense came up with the big stops at the right time to preserve a 7-6 victory over the Spartans.

After over three quarters of scoreless play, quarterback Davy Branson put the Raiders on the scoreboard with a 14-yard touchdown run with 11:10 remaining in the game. Kicker Jake Denison's extra point kick provided what would turn out to be the team's margin of victory.

Somerset, who outgained the Raiders in total yardage, 247-143, answered with a 10-yard touchdown run from Eric Walczak with 4:37 remaining to pull the Spartans to within a point, 7-6. Somerset went for the two-point conversion and the win, but the Raider defense turned back the attempt and the Raiders held on for the one point win.

Hudson head coach Adam Kowles praised the Raiders' defensive effort in the win.

"I thought our defensive coaches put together a great game plan, and the defensive players executed extremely well," he said. "Somerset is so well coached that you can't make a mistake on any play or they will take advantage of it, and I thought our defense was up to the task."

Chas Larson led the effort with 16 tackles, including a big stop on 4th-and-1 with 18 seconds remaining. Sam Stephens made 11 tackles and Ethan Dinauer had eight while Larson and Dinauer also had a sack apiece and Mike Bennett made his second interception in two games.

"I can't say enough about the effort of our guys," Kowles said. "They played hard, and that's about all you can ask for."

The Raider offense, meanwhile, finished with just eight first downs and 143 total yards, all on the ground. Branson led the attack with 62 yards in 13 carries while Spencer Korum finished with 51 yards in 11 attempts.

Hudson was also penalized six times for 53 yards, including an offensive pass interference call that negated a touchdown pass from Branson to Zach Beinlich.

Kowles said the offense needs to be more precise and limit its mistakes with Big Rivers Conference play looming.

"We shot ourselves in the foot a few times that ended some drives when we were moving the ball effectively. We can't afford to make those types of mistakes as we get into conference play," he said. "I was pleased with the aggressiveness of the offensive line, and the ball carriers ran hard.

"We'll take the win, but we have plenty to work on," he added.

The Raiders, now 2-0, will open BRC play Friday, Sept. 11 at Superior (0-2) at 7 p.m. The Spartans are coming off a 15-13 loss to ninth-ranked D.C. Everest last week.

Hudson returns home to host Chippewa Falls (1-1) Friday, Sept. 18, for Homecoming.

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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