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Raiders fall short at Superior

Hudson's Austin Lenzen (20) carries Superior's Zach Erickson into the end zone to cap off a 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Raiders' loss to the Spartans Friday night in Superior. Photos by Jed Carlson, Superior Telegram

The Raiders football team found out Friday night in Superior just how tough the Big Rivers Conference will be this season when the Spartans came up with a big defensive stand late in the game and held on to defeat the Raiders, 14-7, at Ole Haugsrud Field.

The loss was the first of the season for Hudson after nonconference wins over Wisconsin Rapids and Somerset. Superior won for the first time after close losses to state powers Stevens Point and D.C. Everest.

Hudson will host Chippewa Falls 2-1 overall, 1-0 BRC, for Homecoming Friday night, Sept. 18 at Newton Field. Chippewa Falls defeated Eau Claire Memorial, 41-9, in its BRC opener last week.

After a pair of close wins to start the season, the Raiders ended up on the other end of a close score Friday.

"It's one of those games where we need to be able to find a way to win," head coach Adam Kowles said. "We've won some close ones already, and I think that helps you as the season goes, but we weren't able to pull this one out."

Hudson struck first when Austin Lenzen scored on a 13-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left in the first quarter and Jake Denison added the extra point to take a 7-0 lead.

Superior, which hadn't picked up a first down until six minutes were left in the second quarter, tied the score five seconds before halftime when quarterback Kellen McCoshen hit Mike LaValley for a 55-yard touchdown.

The Spartans took the lead for good on a 3-yard touchdown run by Chad Murray with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter.

Hudson gained possession at midfield with 5:41 remaining in the game and moved to the Spartans' eight before a pair of incomplete passes on third and fourth down ended the drive and the Spartans ran out the final 57 seconds to secure the win.

The Raiders finished with 222 yards of total offense compared to 194 for Superior and had nearly seven more minutes of time of possession in the game. But two lost fumbles, an interception and six penalties for 40 yards hurt their chances.

"We had some penalties which hurt us, including a couple of delays which were my fault," Kowles said. "The defense played another nice game. That's a good offensive and defensive team that we played, and holding them to 14 points isn't bad."

Offensively, quarterback Davy Branson rushed for 101 yards in 17 carries and completed 4-of-10 passes for 20 yards with an interception. Lenzen carried the ball 15 times for 70 yards, including the Raiders' only score of the game.

"On offense we need to get into a rhythm," Kowles said. "It seems like we take one step forward and two steps back. That's what happens when you run a new offense, but we need to have a sense of urgency to get the ball into the end zone every chance we get."

Arthur Vinzant led the defense with eight total tackles, including four solo, while Chas Larson had five solo stops and a sack. Tyler Smrcina picked off a pass and Peter Worrell recovered a fumble, both to kill Spartan drives in the first half.

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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