The numbers on the stat sheet were stunning, almost unbelievable.
But yet they were real for the Hudson football team: 68 carries, 368 yards in the Raiders’ 40-21 victory over Appleton North in a WIAA Division 1, Level 3 game at Goerke Field.
While the Lightning will surely look back at missed opportunities, including zero points scored on four takeaways, it was the churning Hudson ground game and lack thereof from the Lightning that decided the contest.
“They were able to run the ball more consistently than I hoped,” Appleton North coach Rob Salm said. “They’re good. You have to give them credit. That option, the way they run it, they have a lot of different options within that system and they run it very well.”
Appleton North had a pair of three-and-outs to start the game and that set up great field position for Hudson, which took advantage to bolt ahead 13-0 on a two-yard touchdown run from Joe Kelly and a four-yard score from Dan Loughney.
North struggled to get its run game going and finished with just 30 yards on 21 carries and turned to the passing game and quarterback Tanner Schuh.
Schuh connected with Dan Rothbauer on a 45-yard scoring play that pulled North to within 13-7, but that’s as close as the Lightning would get.
“They had a good defense and we just had to figure out what we were going to do,” Schuh said. “I think we found our passing game and we just had some mistakes and it ended up not going our way.”
Hudson quarterback Michael Hommes hit 6-foot-6 receiver Alex Herink on a nine-yard score and North’s subsequent drive ended when Jared Johnson returned an interception 22 yards for a score and a 26-7 lead for the Raiders in the second quarter.
North rallied to pull to within 26-14 when Schuh found Frank Van Handel for an 11-yard score, but the Lightning was unable to turn turnovers into points in a third quarter that saw the North defense force three turnovers.
Loughney added a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter but again North bounced back with Schuh’s third touchdown of the game, a 12-yard strike to Van Handel.
Hudson put the game out of reach when Kelly rumbled in from 35 yards out to cap the Raiders’ banner day on the ground. Loughney finished with 132 yards on 27 carries and Kelly and Hommes added 98 yards and 77 yards, respectively.
“We just couldn’t get them off the field,” Salm said. “Whether on third down or when they went for fourth-down conversions, they just kept the ball.
“If we could have taken care of business on third and fourth down, it might have been a different ballgame.”
Schuh finished with 243 yards on 18-of-33 passing, but North’s inability to find balance with a run game left the Lightning one-dimensional.
“That was very tough,” Schuh said. “We were basically relying on our passing game … And (North running back Sawyer Schultz) really never gets shuts down, so, obviously, that was a change for us.”
North ends its season at 10-1 and overcame key injuries to several starters to reach the state quarterfinal stage.
Senior linebacker Kenny Cardew, who finished with 19 tackles to lead the North defense, said his team left it all on the field.
“We had a number of starters go down throughout the season, so it’s been that kind of adversity all season,” he said. “But we had people step up and fill their shoes, so I think we did the best we could. We don’t have any regrets.”
H – Joe Kelly 2 run (Sam Somerville kick)
H – Dan Loughney 4 run (pass failed)
AN – Dan Rothbauer 45 pass from Tanner Schuh (pass failed)
H – Alex Herink 9 pass from Michael Hommes (pass failed)
H – Jared Johnson 22 interception return (Somerville kick)
AN – Frank Van Handel 11 pass from Schuh (Trent Beilke kick)
H – Loughney 1 run (Somerville kick)
AN – Van Handel 12 pass from Schuh (Beilke kick)
H – Kelly 35 run (Somerville kick)
|Total net yards||438||273|
Rushing: Hudson, Loughney 27-132, Kelly 15-98, Hommes 16-77. Appleton North, Sawyer Schultz 16-38.
Passing: Hudson, Hommes 3-9-3-52. Appleton North, Schuh 18-33-2-243.
Receiving: Hudson, Herink 2-42. Appleton North, Van Handel 6-116, Rothbauer 5-71, Troy Vande Voort 4-49.
— Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCRicardo