Rico Cooper.JPG

Junior Rico Cooper scored Hastisngs' only touchdown against St. Thomas Academy, a 6-yard pass from Axel Arnold. Here he returns a kick against Chanhassen. Alec Hamilton / Hastings Star Gazette

Friday night was a game to forget for the Hastings Raiders football team, which struggled in a 41-7 loss at St. Thomas Academy to the Cadets. The Raider run game, which gained momentum the previous two weeks, took a step back and Hastings was forced to play from behind for much of the game after a 28-0 deficit coming out of halftime.

Hastings falls to 2-2 with the loss and 1-1 in the Suburban Maroon sub-district. The Raiders host South St. Paul (1-3) on Friday, Oct. 1, for Homecoming 2021. The Packers lost to the Simley Spartans 26-14 Friday night.

St. Thomas Academy controlled the game with a punishing ground game that ran for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 attempts, while also passing for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns between three different quarterbacks. The Cadets gained 25 first downs to 9 for Hastings and the Raiders did not score until the final seconds of the third quarter.

Hastings ran for just 18 yards on 17 carries split between five rushers. They were forced to abandon the run due to the score and senior quarterback Axel Arnold was 6-for-18 passing for 53 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Danny Millner completed 2 of 4 passes for 54 yards. The Raiders’ offense managed just 39 plays for 125 yards.

The Cadets led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter when Love Adebayo scored from 14 yards out and Mark Rogalski hit the XP. They then scored three times in the second quarter -- a 17-yard scoring run by Savion Hart, Maximus Sims hit Grady O’Neill for a 49-yard touchdown pass and Hart scored a second touchdown from 10 yards out -- to lead 28-0 going into halftime.

St. Thomas Academy scored twice more in the third quarter, another touchdown run from Adebayo and a second touchdown pass from Sims to O’Neil (17 yards), to take a 41-0 lead before Hastings got on the board. The Raiders scored with 28 seconds left in the third quarter on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Arnold to junior Rico Cooper and Rhys Fillion made the extra point. That made it 41-7, which was the final.

Senior Stephen Reifenberger led the Hastings receiving corps with 3 catches for 26 yards and junior Gavin Odman had 2 receptions for 54 yards. Cooper caught 2 passes for 15 yards and a score while junior Jonathan Bezdicek added a reception for 12 yards. 

Junior Payton Burow was the only Raider runner to have double-digit yards rushing, carrying the ball 7 times for 17 yards. On defense, Reifenburger had an interception which he returned 13 yards. 

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