Hudson football coach Adam Kowles described Friday’s season-ending loss at Neenah as a microcosm of the Raider’s season.
“We played well in spurts, really well actually, but not consistently enough,” he said.
That was the story of the season for the Raiders. After getting off to an 0-3 start they won four of their next five games, marred only by a close 22-14 loss to Big Rivers Conference co-champion Menomonie only to lose their final two games, including Friday’s 35-27 loss to Neenah in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs.
But the Raiders didn’t go down without a fight. Trailing 28-13 at the end of three they rallied for a pair of fourth quarter scores before running out of time in a two-touchdown loss.
“The guys played their hearts out,” Kowles said. “To go there against a good team and compete the entire game and come up just short is tough to take, especially when we had our chances. These guys showed a resilience that we had all year though, and I couldn't be more proud of their effort.”
Hudson opened the scoring eight minutes into the game on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jake Miller to Matthew McDevitt. But the Rockets returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and got a 66-yard touchdown pass to open up a 14-7 lead before a 25-yard touchdown run from Andrew Ross made it a 21-13 game at halftime.
Another long touchdown by the Rockets, this time a 25-yard run in the third quarter, widened the Rocket’s lead to 28-13, Miller found Tyler Stubbendick from 9 yards out to make it a 28-20 game. Neenah came right back with another score to make it a 35-20 game and Stubbendick caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ross with under a minute remaining but that’s as close as the Raiders could get.
Hudson finished with 490 yards of offense compared to 237 for Neenah but the Rockets used big plays to put points on the board.
“Offensively, we really were able to move the ball but we got bogged down in the red zone a couple times,” Kowles said. “Defensively we played well but gave up too many big plays. They found a way to get their best player the ball by running and passing to him and we needed to tackle better. We slowed them down at times but needed a couple more stops. We also had the breakdown on special teams, giving up the kickoff return for a touchdown.”
Miller completed 24-of-38 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns and Ross was 3-of-6 for 59 yards and a score as the Raiders put up 310 yards through the air.
“The pass protection was very good and we were able to hit some open receivers throughout the game,” Kowles said. “That's a really good defense they have and we were so close to getting it into the end zone more.”
Stubbendick caught nine passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns and McDevitt finished with seven catches for 74 yards and a score while Hunter Danielson led the Raider rushing attack with 50 yards on 13 carries.
Ethan Amelsberg led the Raider defense with four tackles and Brandon Moeri had an interception while Jack Erickson recovered a fumble.