Raiders football comes back to win over rival Park 24-21
The Hastings Raiders football team faced plenty of adversity Friday night against the Park Wolfpack but they proved they are the better team when they made a second-half comeback and won 24-21 over their Hwy. 61 rival. Senior running back Corbin Leflay was near-unstoppable again with three touchdowns despite missing time in the second half after being hobbled. The Raiders' defense played well against Park's speed, giving up just a few big plays that unfortunately went for touchdowns. Hastings remains undefeated at 3-0 and will travel to Simley next Friday, Sept. 21.
The Raiders started fast as Leflay took the opening kickoff to midfield and then scored on a 20-yard touchdown run with 7:42 left in the first quarter. Junior C.J. Brenny made the extra point and Hastings led 7-0. Later in the first, the Raiders were forced to punt and Park started at midfield. Senior Wolfpack running back Gunner Ossmo broke out a 32-yard run and then scored from 12 yards out and the game was tied at 7-7 with 4:38 left in the quarter.
Ossmo struck again at the start of the second quarter when he scored on a 67-yard touchdown run and Park led 14-7 with 9:56 left in the half. Hastings would move the ball on the next drive but senior quarterback Sully Levos was intercepted at the Wolfpack 20 yard line. The Raider defense stood firm and then Hastings was driving again, but then Levos was intercepted for a second time inside the Park redzone. Park led 14-7 at halftime.
After forcing Park to punt on the first possession of the third quarter, Hastings drove down to the Wolfpack one but turned the ball over on downs, unable to score. They got the ball back at the Park 37 after they forced a three-and-out, but both Leflay and senior Ben Streeter left the game on the drive with leg injuries, though they would return.
Hastings threatened to start the fourth quarter and Brenny made a 27-yard field goal to start the quarter and make it 14-10 Wolfpack. The Park offense struggled in the second half against the stout Hastings defense and punted again. Leflay returned in a big way as he broke a big run across midfield and then scored from 47-yard out for his second touchdown of the night, making it 17-14 Raiders with 7:46 left in the game. The following drive, Park hit on another big play, scoring on a 37-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead 21-17 with 4:30 left to play. Hastings responds by driving 60 yards for the score, Leflay's third touchdown (from 11 yards out), and the Raiders led 24-21 with 1:34 left. Senior Noah Kullmann then came up with a game-sealing interception with less than 20 seconds left in the game and Hastings won 24-21.
An unsung hero in the win was senior Trey Petrich, who took over ball-carrier duties when Leflay and Streeter both went out and helped spark the Raider offense. Petrich also played on the defense that slowed down Park in the second half.
"They ran a lot of power's in the first half so we had to blow-up that h-back," he said. "Once we got that straightened out, they threw the ball and we shut them down."
Head coach Dana Strain said that his offense simply executed better in the second half.
"Not a ton of things adjustment wise," he said. "We started out running the football well, and then it kind of got shut off there for a little bit, so I think it was more just cleaning some stuff up. A couple of calls here and there, obviously we had some big plays, the reverse and things of that nature to keep drives going, but more so just execution."
Defensively, he said that the Raider defense was able to handle Park's speed.
"What we knew was that if we could keep them in front of us, we would be able to have some success," Strain said. "But we also knew they were very dangerous, so for us we can't let them get into space, there were just a couple times they got into space. Give the kids credit for kind of shutting that off in the second half."
While acknowledging the rivalry between the two schools and remaining undefeated, Strain said that perhaps the most important part of his team's win over Park was that they faced some adversity for the first time this season.
"Well what we can use it for is this is the first time we've been tested like this," he said. "So to respond the way we did is the biggest thing. There's a lot of things that make it a special win, in terms of who's it against, section seeding and all that, but the biggest thing is that we proved to ourselves that we can win this type of a football game."