HUDSON — Another close game ended up in a loss for the Rice Lake football team.
The Warriors had grabbed a fourth quarter lead with fewer than 9 minutes to play but Hudson scored twice in the final 4 minutes to defeat Rice Lake 32-19 on Friday night at Hudson.
“It’s about habits and being able to do that precise thing at the moment and under pressure,” Rice Lake coach Dan Hill said of close losses. “While we’re making progress that was a very talented team. We’re still making progress and trying to climb and play the underdog role and keep our spirits up and get after the next team.”
Hudson was backed up at its own 1-yard line when Christian Lindow hit Hudson quarterback Owen Anderson and forced a fumble. Elliot Nolin was right on spot as he picked up the ball in the end zone for the score with 8:24 left in the game to pull ahead 19-17.
The Raiders came right back and drove down the field as Anderson found Troy Bounting for a 23-yard completion for a touchdown on 4th-and-4 with 4:57 left in the game. Rice Lake looked to have wrapped up the Hudson quarterback but he tossed the ball into coverage and Bounting came down with it and maneuvered his way into the end zone.
Rice Lake faced a 4th-and-1 at its own 40-yard line on its next drive. A quarterback sneak failed, giving the ball back to the Raiders.
The Warriors got the stopped they needed but on the punt Rice Lake fumbled with the Raiders recovering with 2:28 to play in the game. Hudson closed out the game with a shovel pass to Bounting and he carried the ball 24 yards for the touchdown with 1:38 left.
Rice Lake had taken its opening drive of the game down to the Hudson 11-yard line on 11 plays, but a penalty and negative running play pushed the Warrior back. After two incomplete passes Rice Lake attempted a 34-yard field goal but it just missed sliding through the upright and Rice Lake had a promising drive end without points.
Hudson marched right down the field on the ensuing drive. A 48-yard run from Matteo Bonnin pushed the Raiders down to the Rice Lake 13. Anderson capped the drive with a 1-yard run to lead 7-0 with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
Rice Lake had a drive stall inside Hudson territory and the Warriors pinned the Raiders down at the one. After a three-and-out, Rice Lake took possession at the Raider 27 after a solid punt return. Following a penalty that backed the Warriors up, Zach Fisher found daylight up the middle and he carried the ball 32 yards for the score, which evened the game at 7-7 with fewer than 5 minutes left in the half.
Rice Lake then got an onside kick and marched 41 yards in five plays into the end zone as quarterback Cole Fenske scored from a yard out, putting the Warriors up 13-7 with 2:21 remaining in the half.
Hudson responded though, as Bonnin got loose for 29 yards, plus a penalty, to move deep into Warrior territory. A Hudson penalty and sack pushed the Raiders back. On 3rd-and-14, Anderson, on a quarterback draw, scampered 19 yards down to the Rice Lake 15. Two plays later Anderson found Carter Herink from 9 yards out with just 10 seconds to play in the half as Hudson pulled in front 14-13.
A few plays into the fourth quarter Fenske found Alex Belongia for 39 yards as the Rice Lake receiver came down with the ball in double coverage. Fenske then ran for 19 yards to the Hudson 7-yard line. Another Fenske carry pushed the Warriors down to the 2-yard line. The Hudson defense held firm stopping a run up the middle from Andrew Farm and then on fourth down a pass to Belongia was broken up in the end zone to force a turnover on downs with 8:30 to play in the game.
Fisher toted the rock 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Warriors. Fenske added 61 on 14 attempts. He was also 6-of-16 passing for 90 yards. Tristan Scheurer hauled in three catches for 36 yards and Belongia had the one 39-yard reception.
Hudson was led by 131 yards on the ground from Bonnin on 12 carries. Anderson completed 13-of-17 passes for 184 yards and two scores. Bounting pulled in six catches for 114 yards. Hudson outpaced Rice Lake 352-267 in total yards.
““We’re still right there,” Hill said. “We’ve got to keep getting better at the little things.”
Rice Lake hosts Menomonie next Friday at Pug Lund Field. After a defeat in the season opener, the Mustangs have won each of their past three games while allowing just six total points in those contests.
“They’ve got good athletes all around,” Hill said of Menomonie. “They run a lot of formations, a lot of things that confuse a lot of teams. I think our kids are going to step up to it and challenge them.”
This week’s game is the only other game officially scheduled. Rice Lake was set to have a nonconference game against Sparta Oct. 30, but it was canceled after the Spartans moved football to a spring alternate schedule. Hill said its day-to-day on what the remaining schedule will look like, but Rice Lake has been in a number of conversations about scheduling games for the upcoming weeks.