Raiders take care of business, move on in playoffs with win over ECM
Nothing comes easy in the playoffs, especially when you’re facing a team you’ve seen four times in the past two seasons.
Eau Claire Memorial was determined to shut down the Hudson passing game last Friday night at Newton Field, so the Raiders went to the ground game to grind out a 34-14 Level a playoff victory. The Raiders rushed for 255 yards and scored four of their five touchdowns on the ground to advance to a Level 2 game this Saturday against Green Bay Preble.
Raider head coach Adam Kowles said it’s always good to get a win, especially in the playoffs, but Eau Claire Memorial made the Raiders work for every yard Friday night.
“They know us well and we know them well, which is sometimes tough to prepare for,” he said about Hudson’s Big Rivers Conference foes, who the Raiders also defeated in a first round playoff game last season. “They really made us work for our yardage on offense. They obviously were not going to give up the big play, so we had to grind it out.”
Memorial held Raider wideout Jake Giordana without a catch while limiting quarterback Landry Otten to 3-of-12 passing for 61 yards. Otten’s second completion of the game on the Raiders’ second drive went for a 12-yard touchdown pass to Alex Herink to give the Raiders a lead they would never relinquish.
The touchdown was set up by an interception and 25-yard return by linebacker Nick Bloomberg after the Old Abes had driven 49-yards in ten plays down to the Hudson 13.
Fullback Wade Malecha scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night on a four-yard run early in the second quarter to extend the Raider lead to 13-0. Later in the quarter defensive back Lucas Traynor picked off another Bloomberg pass to give the Raiders the ball at the Memorial 21-yard line and Malecha carried the ball four straight times before scoring from a yard out.
Memorial put together its best drive of the night on its first possession of the second half to make it a 20-7 game, but Malecha broke up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:10 left in the third quarter to extend Hudson’s lead to 27-7.
Braden Marvin scored on a seven-yard sweep early in the fourth quarter before Memorial scored a touchdown in the closing minutes to make the final 34-14.
Malecha carried the ball 20 times for 152 yards in the victory. He’s rushed for 252 yards and five touchdowns in two games back since injuring his knee in the season opener at Minnetonka.
“As the game wore on, I thought our offensive line did a great job in controlling the line of scrimmage,” Kowles said about the Raider success on the ground. “Those guys don't always get the credit, but they have played very well as a unit all year long.”
The Raider defense, meanwhile, stopped the Old Abes three times inside the Hudson 35-yard line despite Memorial collecting 17 first downs and 289 total yards.
“Defensively, again we stood up when we needed to in the red zone,” Kowles said. “Stopping them on their first drive was huge and it changed the flow of the game. Even though they were able to move the ball on offense, we were able to buckle down when we had to and not give up the big plays.”
Zach Kraft finished with eight solo tackles and a sack and Cal Johnson had seven solo tackles and one assist while Jack Koski made six tackles and Traynor and Miles Lewis had five apiece.
The win improved the Raider record to 9-1 and sets up a Level 2 playoff game against Green Bay Preble (7-3) this Saturday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. in Stevens Point. Green Bay Preble defeated Wausau West, 13-12, in its playoff opener last Friday night in Wausau.
ECM 0 0 7 7—14
Raiders 6 14 7 7—34
HUD—Alex Herink 12-yard pass from Landry Otten (kick failed), 1:48
HUD—Wade Malecha 4-yard run (Hunter Frey kick), 10:29.
HUD—Wade Malecha 1-yard run (Hunter Frey kick), 0:37.
ECM—Ben Everhart 1-yard run (Will Casperson kick), 7:29.
HUD—Wade Malecha 20-yard run (Hunter Frey kick), 2:10.
HUD—Braden Marvin 6-yard run (Hunter Frey kick), 11:16.
ECM—Aaron Faacks 1-yard run (Will Casperson kick), 1:19.
1st Downs 17 13
Total Yds. 289 316
Pass Yds. 157 61
Rush Yds. 132 255
Turnovers 2 0
RUSHING (att-yds): Wade Malecha 20-152; Hunter Frey 8-51; Braden Marvin 4-29; Landry Otten 1-15; Max Gierke 2-5; Dayton Diemel 2-3.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yds): Landry Otten 3-12-0-61.
RECEIVING (rec-yds): Alex Herink 3-61.
TACKLES: Zach Kraft 8, Cal Johnson 8, Jack Koski 6, Lucas Traynor 5, Miles Lewis 5, Eliot Motu 4, Jared Johnson 4, Ross Wusterbarth 3, Bryce DuCharme 3, Nick Bloomberg 3, Ryan Reiter 2, Lonnie Meinke 2, Wes Korum 1, Gavin Goeltz 1, Hunter Frey 1.
SACKS: Zach Kraft.
INTERCEPTION: Nick Bloomberg, Lucas Traynor.