Chippewa Falls got the late stop it needed. Hudson didn’t.
The result was a 29-25 Cardinal victory in the regular season finale for both teams Friday night, Oct. 18, in Hudson after the Cardinals got an 8-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 27 seconds remaining.
The Raider defense came up big on Chippewa’s previous possession, stopping the Cardinals on fourth down inside the Raider five yard line with 2:25 left to preserve Hudson’s 25-22 lead. But the Raiders couldn’t get a first down as Chippewa burned its time outs and were forced to punt into a stiff wind out of their own end zone, allowing the Cardinals to take over at the Hudson 21 yard-line with 1:26 remaining.
After a first down completion moved the ball down to the 8, Hudson forced three straight incompletions and the Cardinals sent their field goal unit onto the field for a potential game-tying kick with 27 seconds left. But following a Hudson time out, Chippewa decided to go for the win and quarterback Hayden Goodman hit Tyler Bohland just across the goal line for the game-winning score.
“We needed a first down to win the game and couldn't get it,” Raider coach Adam Kowles said. “We also had too many breakdowns on special teams, which has been good most of the year. We didn't play with a sense of urgency, instead playing like a team who already had clinched a playoff spot. The guys played hard, though. I'm so proud of who these guys are because they play the game the right way, always giving their all.”
The Raiders were already assured of a spot in the playoffs by virtue of their 21-13 victory over Eau Claire Memorial the week before. They’ll take a 4-5 overall record and No. 5 seed into a Level 1 playoff game at fourth-seeded Neenah (4-5) this Friday, Oct. 25.
Last Friday’s game against Chippewa Falls began with the Cardinals taking over seven minutes off the clock on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.
The game featured six lead changes earlier with Hudson taking its last lead, 25-22, on a two-yard touchdown run by Hunter Danielson and a two-point conversion pass from Jake Miller to Tyler Stubbendick with 5:53 remaining.
Danielson gave Hudson its first lead of the game, 10-7, with a nine-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter after Dan Zeuli had kicked a 25-yard field goal to cut Chippewa’s early lead to 7-3.
The Cardinals took a 14-10 lead into the locker room following a two-yard run by Ben Steinmetz with 3:57 left in the second quarter.
Hudson took the second half kick and matched 71 yards, ending with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Owen Anderson to Stubbendick to regain the lead, 17-14.
A Raider fumble near midfield led to a two-yard quarterback sneak by Goodman, and a two-point conversion on a busted extra point attempt put the Cardinals ahead 22-17 with 9:50 left in the game.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, Hudson started at its own 20 where two straight carries by Miller moved the ball to midfield. Miller pitched to Troy Bounting on the very next play and Bounting ran to the Cardinal 14 yard-line, and after Miller hit Carter Herink and the two, Danielson scored his second touchdown of the game to give Hudson it’s last lead, 25-22, with just under six minutes left.
“We didn't start well giving up such a long drive, allowing them to take time off the clock and score right away,” he said. “Defensively we weren't able to get them off the field enough. Not consistent enough on offense, either. One drive went well, the next one didn't.”
Danielson finished with 54 yards on 13 carries and Bounting had 42 yards on six attempts as the Raiders rushed for 183 yards. Miller completed 6-of-13 passes for 77 yards and Anderson threw for 55 yards on 2-of-3 pass attempts. Herink caught three balls for 65 yards and Stubbendick had three catches for 46 as the Raiders outgained Chippewa Falls 315-272.
Ethan Amelsberg led the Raider defense with 17 tackles.
Hudson is one of six Big Rivers Conference teams that qualified for postseason play. Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial will compete in Division 1 and Superior and Chippewa Falls made the Division 2 field while River Falls and New Richmond will compete in Division 3.