Royals use big quarter to get past RaidersFor Hastings football fans, there was nothing wrong with the beginning of Friday night’s football game against Woodbury.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
For Hastings football fans, there was nothing wrong with the beginning of Friday night’s football game against Woodbury.
It was the ending that fans here didn’t like.
Hastings took an early 7-0 lead, then a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Eventually, the Raiders built a nine-point lead at 23-14.
In the fourth quarter, though, the Royals scored 15 unanswered points and went on to win the Suburban East Conference matchup, 29-23. Hastings is now 0-2 on the season after a pair of close losses. Last week, Hastings fell to Mounds View, 13-6.
“We were disappointed,” Hastings coach Dana Strain said. “We were close, again, and didn’t get a win. We’re going to be in every game – a lot of these one-score games. We’re a little frustrated we haven’t got one of them to go our way. That’s our next step – to get one of the close ones to go our way.”
Early on, things look good for Hastings. Hastings was stopped on its first possession, then the defense came up big and held the Royals to a three-and-out on their first possession.
On just the second play of Hastings’ second drive, quarterback Aaron Stoneberg hit Ellis Williams for an 81-yard touchdown. P.J. Piotrowski kicked the extra point, and Hastings was up 7-0.
“That was a great start,” coach Dana Strain said. “We wanted to start quick. That first offensive series, we didn’t do much with it, but then we got the stop defensively, and got the big play offensively. That got us rolling.”
Woodbury then countered with a nine play, 79-yard drive that tied the score. Junius Wilson ended up scoring from two yards out.
Later, with 5:52 to play in the second quarter, Tyler Mellick scored on a 20-yard touchdown run, capping off an eight-play, 47-yard drive. Piotrowski again made good on the PAT and Hastings was up 14-7.
The two teams went to halftime at 14-7, and Hastings got the ball to start the second half. After the Hastings offense stalled, Woodbury got the ball and on their first play from scrimmage, Wilson got loose and scored on an 80-yard touchdown run. He finished with 22 carries for 192 yards.
“That was a big play for them,” Strain said. “We had eight of our 11 kids get a hand on him. We had him stopped for a three-yard gain in a pile. Their kid kept his feet going. He just wouldn’t go down.”
Piotrowski got Hastings the lead back, though, kicking a 25-yard field goal with 6:25 to play in the third quarter. The field goal came after a seven-play, 68-yard drive.
The Raiders went up by nine points when Mellick scored again, this time on a seven-yard run. The PAT was blocked.
“That big play could have easily taken the wind out of our sails,” Strain said. “That was the cool thing – we came back. It was a good, positive sign that our kids responded after that big play.”
In the fourth quarter, though, the Royals put 15 unanswered points on the scoreboard to win.
The first touchdown came with 11:37 to play after a six-play, 69-yard drive, making the score 23-21.
Hastings was stopped on its next possession, then punted away to Woodbury. The defense came up big and forced another Woodbury punt. The snap went over the punter’s head, and Hastings got the ball inside the Woodbury 10 yard line. Hastings was stopped on its first three attempts, and Strain decided to go for a touchdown on fourth down, saying that Hastings could have made it a two-score game (30-21) if they would have been successful.
Woodbury came up with a stop, and got the ball at their own seven yard line. They covered 93 yards in eight plays and scored the game-winner with 2:51 to play on a 22-yard run from quarterback Saywer Moon (who gained 76 yards on five carries).
“We had a chance, going into the fourth quarter up nine points,” Strain said. “We had a couple of good chances to put it away. We didn’t get it done, and they ended up scoring there late in the game.”
While Hastings lost the game, Strain was encouraged by several of the things he saw from the team.
First, running back Tyler Mellick gained 104 yards on 19 carries.
“He really ran well,” Strain said. “After missing last year with a knee injury, it was really cool to see Tyler get going offensively.”
Strain said the offensive line had a strong game for Mellick. Members of the line include Isaac Eichmann, Jake Anderson, Connor Stoker, Mike Smith, Sam Westre and Jayson Bauer.
“We ran the ball well and, for the most part, protected pretty well,” Strain said. “They deserve some credit there.”
Defensively speaking, Hastings had a big fumble recovery by Matt Koch. He had forced the fumble by essentially ripping the ball out of a Woodbury player’s hands.
Tate Sykes had an interception for Hastings.
Danny Anderson had a strong game on the defensive line, Strain said.
“He really, really did have a nice game,” he said.
Piotrowski is a new face for football fans. He plays soccer for the Raiders, and wanted to try kicking for the football team. Strain is happy Piotrowski came out.
He converted on two of three extra points, and the only one he missed was blocked. His 25-yard field goal was at an angle and a tough kick, but he got it through the uprights for the Raiders.
Mike Rodriguez will continue to be the team’s punter, and Dylan Nelson will continue handling the kickoffs for Hastings.
Hastings plays host to Roseville Friday night.
Roseville has a 1-1 record on the season.
They beat Park on Friday night, 48-23.
In the first week of play, they lost to White Bear Lake, 28-13.
“They’re very explosive,” Strain said. “They’ve scored a lot of points already. They have a dynamic offense. It will be a challenge for us.”
Stillwater and Cretin-Derham Hall lead the conference. They are the only two teams left in the SEC with unbeaten records.