The Austin Packers played host to the Northfield Raiders in Big Southeast District Red Division football action at Art Hass Stadium Friday evening, and in a game that seesawed back and forth, especially in the fourth quarter, a last-minute drive for Austin came up just short as the Raiders held on to win 21-20.
The teams traded punts to start the game, and the Raiders took over for their second possession of the game at their own 23 in the first quarter. Northfield proceeded to work the ball into Austin territory, but the Packer defense forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Buai Duop at the Raider 43. Austin was able to capitalize as on the seventh play of the ensuing drive, Joseph Walker, who had a huge night running the ball for the Packers dashed into the end zone from 13 yards out, and Joe Ewing’s extra point put Austin ahead 7-0.
Northfield came right back, though, as they moved smartly down the field from their own 20, including a 30 yard run by running back Ian Stanton to help move the ball to the Austin 25. On the fourth play of the drive, quarterback Soren Richardson found wide receiver Tate Journell open in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass and a 7-7 tie after kicker Jayden Wefel’s extra point.
After the two teams traded punts, Austin took over on their 36, and on the first play from scrimmage, Walker sprinted through a hole off left tackle, got to the sideline and raced to a 64-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Packer lead. Northfield took over at their 20 after the ensuing kickoff, and they proceeded to grind the ball down the field inside the Packer 30 with :20 seconds left. On the 15th play of the drive, Richardson hit tight end Zach Edwards with a pass underneath, but Walker was able to bring him down short of a first down on fourth down, and the Packers were able to take a knee and run out the first half clock to lead 14-7.
Austin got the ball first to start the second half, and a 24 yard pass from quarterback Jack Lang to wide receiver Victor Idris helped the Packers move the ball into Raider territory to the 28-yard line. The drive stalled there, though, and a 45-yard field goal attempt by Joe Ewing was no good, giving Northfield the ball at their 20.
The Raiders then embarked on an 11-play, 80 yard drive that ate up the rest of the 3rd quarter clock, and Richardson bulled into the end zone from a yard out on the first play of the 4th quarter to tie the game at 14 after Wefel’s extra point. Austin answered right back, though, as after a short, ground ball kick was recovered by the Packers at their 44, Lang hit Idris with a 44-yard pass down the right sideline to move the ball to the Raider 13. Lang then kept the ball on the read option on the fourth play of the drive and sprinted off left end into the end zone for a touchdown and a 20-14 Austin lead. Ewing’s extra point was just wide to the left, leaving the Packer lead at six points.
Northfield then got a nice return on the ensuing kickoff as Jackson Jerdee fumbled the kick initially, but he was able to scoop the ball up and rambled 41 yards to the 46. The Raiders then picked up some instant offense from their bench, as sophomore tight end Austin Koepp came into the game and hauled in a 34-yard pass down the left sideline to put the ball at the Austin 6-yard line. Running back Brayden Brakke, who also had not seen action until that drive took the ball into the end zone on the fifth play of the drive, and Jayden Wefel’s extra point gave Northfield their first lead of the game at 21-20.
Austin again had an answer, as starting from their own 23, quarterback Jack Lang dashed eight yards on third and eight, and Walker added a two-yard run on 4th and 2 to give Austin another first down on the drive that proceeded to the Raider 30. But, facing another 4th at 2 with :59 left, Lang went back to pass on the 15th play of the drive, but his pass to Idris just failed to click, and Northfield was able to run out the remaining time to hold on for the win.
Joseph Walker had a huge game on the ground for Austin, as he tallied 22 carries for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and Jack Lang carried the ball six times for 14 yards and a touchdown. Lang was 3 for 9 passing for 77 yards, and Victor Idris had two catches for 67 yards, while Manny Guy added one catch for 10 yards.
The Packers start out 0-1, and they will be back in action next Friday night in Rochester against the John Marshall Rockets at John Drews Field. You’ll hear the game on AM 1480 KAUS, with the Austin Packers pre-game show on the air at 6:30 p.m., and kickoff at 7:00 p.m.