It was tough sledding for the Hastings Raiders football team in their return to the gridiron for the 2022 season.
The Raiders struggled to get much going offensively and gave up too many chunk plays in their defeat to the Chanhassen Storm 27-7 at Todd Field on Sept. 1. The Raiders were outgained 330 yards to 173 in the game, with nearly two-thirds of the Storm’s yards coming from four long touchdown plays.
For much of the contest, the Chanhassen defense was stifling, but the Raiders also shot themselves in the foot with penalties (seven for 67 yards) and botched snaps and handoffs.
The Raiders were trying to establish the running game behind junior running back Payton Burow, but he had little space to run and finished the game with 64 yards on 19 carries. Senior quarterback Daniel Millner, starting his first game as QB for the Raiders, just couldn’t get in sync with his receiving targets, throwing 11/30 for 96 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Raiders hung in the game during the first half, and there were some near misses from their passing game that could have given them an early lead.
In the first quarter, following a Storm fumble recovered by the Raiders at the Storm’s 15 yard line, Millner almost connected with senior wide receiver Rico Cooper near the right side pylons on back-to-back plays. Both passes were well-thrown, but Cooper just couldn’t quite corral them in tight coverage, and the Raiders turned the ball over on downs.
Another nice series from the defense, capped by a timely third down blitz, once again gave the Raiders strong field position, this time near midfield. The Raiders wound up going three and out on the drive, and the Storm struck first blood on their next drive with a 31-yard-touchdown run from junior running back Maxwell Woods.
The Storm attempted a trick play on the extra point attempt, which was foiled by the Raiders, keeping the game 6-0.
The Storm hit paydirt again on their next drive, with Woods once again being the culprit as he broke contain on the right side of the Raiders defense and scored from 41 yards out. Millner and the Raiders offense were able to generate a promising drive in a 2-minute drill scenario at the end of the first half. First down completions to Cooper and sophomore wide receiver Jack Cloutier brought them to the Storm’s 38 yard line, but the Raiders ultimately turned it over on downs and entered halftime down 13-0.
The second half opened with a backbreaking series of plays by the Storm that essentially sealed the game. After a nice job by the Raiders kickoff coverage unit to pin the Storm deep in their own territory, Woods broke off an 84-yard touchdown run on the very next play.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Storm successfully recovered an onside kick and would connect on a 33-yard-touchdown pass that swelled their lead to 27-0.
Millner and company would finally get the Raiders on the board late in the fourth quarter when he and Cloutier hooked up on a 17-yard touchdown pass, making the final score 27-7. Considering the retooling that the Raiders offense underwent coming off of last season, it appears that they’re still trying to work out the kinks.
Mitigating the penalties and big plays on the other side of the ball will be crucial for the Raiders when they hit the road to take on Apple Valley on Sept. 9.