Quarterback Dexter Smith did a little bit of everything for the Two Rivers football team on Friday, accounting for all the Raiders’ points during their 35-14 win over visiting Kewaskum. Yet, his best play of the night might have been to keep points off the board.
Smith had just connected with receiver Brett Slaby for a seven-yard touchdown pass with seven seconds left in the first half to put the Raiders up 21-0 when he made his only mistake of the game. Smith, who handles the kicking duties for Two Rivers, kicked it deep to the Indians return man who had nothing but daylight ahead of him.
Except an angry kicker. Smith made the stop, preserving the halftime shutout.
“I knew I messed up,” Smith said. “(Coach Kevin Shillcox) told me to squib it to make sure they couldn’t get a good return and I just kicked it too hard. I was the last guy who could have made the tackle so I was determined to not let him score.”
Last season’s matchup with Kewaskum was still fresh on the mind of Smith, when the Raiders jumped out to an early 21-0 lead only to see the Indians fight back. Two Rivers eventually held on for the 21-19 win, but Smith said they learned a valuable lesson from the game.
“I knew we had to score quick and get a big lead early,” Smith added. “We couldn’t settle, we just had to keep battling because this team will fight back.”
Shillcox was determined to help his team build that large lead, having Smith take the short-to-intermediate throws the defense gave him instead of trying to score on every play.
“We worked on the short throws all week,” Shillcox said. “We knew they were going to play zone, cover-4 deep, we weren’t going to get the throws over the top so we went to our short game and it worked well.”
Smith completed 28-of-38 passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his 42 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries.
The game started with Two Rivers getting the opening kickoff and methodically driving 80 yards as Smith picked apart the defense with precision strikes to his receivers, most notably to Robert Geiger.
On the night, Geiger hauled in 12 catches for 149 yards while teammate Brett Slaby added 106 yards on eight receptions.
Smith eventually capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge before hitting Slaby for the two-point conversion.
Before the first half was over, Smith had thrown two touchdown passes, one each to Tyler Kust (three yards) and Slaby. Smith’s tackle to end the half preserved the Raiders’ 21-0 advantage.
Kewaskum started the second half strong, converting a fourth and six from the 10-yard line on the opening drive of the half before a missed extra point made it 21-6. It was as close as the Indians would get as Smith and the Two Rivers’ defense did the rest.
The Raiders forced three fumbles, recovering two, and Two Rivers’ Scott Skornicka intercepted Kewaskum’s Brett Boegel once just as the Indians began to regain some momentum in the second half.
Skornicka, like his quarterback, was all over the field on both ends for the Raiders, making 12 solo tackles and assisting on two more. He also led Two Rivers’ rushing attack with 43 yards on 10 carries.
“Coach Shillcox stresses we all do our part without trying to do too much,” Skornicka said. “If we do too much, that’s where we make mistakes and can hurt the team.”
Smith eventually put the game away by scoring on runs of nine and three yards in the third quarter meaning the Indians’ late 22-yard touchdown pass from Boegel to Charlie Witek did nothing but reduce the chances of a running clock.
“Coach has been talking a long time about finishing games and that’s been one of our main goals,” Smith said. “We got our playoff win last year now we want to go into the playoffs with (six straight) wins so we can get the best possible seed. There’s a lot of pressure on this team but we came through tonight.”