Raiders’ football handles Tartan easily to earn home section playoff game
The Hastings Raiders’ football team beat the Titans easily in a game that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. Both the Hastings offense and defense put together strong performances against the Titans, who scored 12 points at the end, when the game was all but over.
The Raiders’ defense set the tone on the very first series when Josh Miser sacked Tartan’s quarterback Marco Hernandez to force a fourth-and-26 and a Titan punt. When the Raiders got the ball, running back Ovie Embu took off for 32 yards on a Colin Kummer shovel pass to set up a 20-yard touchdown pass to Nathaniel Wiese for a 7-0 lead. Hastings never looked back.
They added another touchdown when Miser and several other Raiders sacked and stripped Hernandez. The fumble was recovered by Nick Blackford, who returned it 20 yards for another touchdown. The very next possession Embu ran it in from 2 yards out to give the Raiders a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Titans were able to get on the board at the end of the second quarter after Hernandez scored on a quarterback sneak, but from then until the waning minutes of the second half, the Raider defense continued to dominate. Hernandez was under constant pressure by the Hastings pass rushers, especially Miser and Jack Tousignant.
Midway through the third quarter, Trey Roger recovered a Tartan fumbled snap and Embu added another touchdown run to go up 27-7. After the Raiders’ defense forced a turnover on downs, Kummer completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jake Brake to open up a 33-7 lead with one quarter to play.
Hastings’ defense continued to stymie the Titan offense, forcing another turnover in the fourth quarter when Noah Bzoskie intercepted Hernandez. Tartan was able to score two touchdowns after Hastings began to put in its reserves. The Titans completed a long touchdown pass on a jump ball into the end zone, recovered an onside kick and then completed another hail mary as time expired to make the final score 33-19 Hastings.
Head coach Dana Strain praised both his offense and his defense as they head into the playoffs.
“I think they played a complete football game (about the defense),” Strain said. “We took an offense that had playmakers, we limited them and we got great pressure on the quarterback. Offensively, we’ve learned how to play with a lead and the mental toughness it takes. We are getting better at that and our offense is clicking the best it has all season.”
Embu had a fantastic game, rushing 23 times for 144 yards and a touchdown, along with three receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown. Kummer was efficient, completing seven passes on 14 attempts for three touchdowns. Brake and Wiese led the Raiders’ receivers, Brake catching one pass for 37 yards and a touchdown while Wiese pulled in three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders received the No. 4 seed for section playoffs and hosted Henry Sibley in the first round on Tuesday, Oct. 25, a rematch of the first game of the season which the Raiders won at Henry Sibley 14-8. On Tuesday, Hastings defeated Henry Sibley 43-22. The win advances them in the section tournament, setting them up to play the No. 1 seed Apple Valley Saturday, Oct. 29, in Apple Valley, Minn.