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'It always comes to an end': Night Hawks close season with loss to Raiders

RICHARDTON -- "We feel so good, yeah we feel so good!" Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football fans cheer the same thing after every touchdown and in the 9-man regular-season finale against Hettinger-Scranton, the Raiders faithful screamed those words ...

Hettinger-Scranton senior Kyle Burwick runs up the field in a game against Richardton-Taylor-Hebron on Friday, Oct. 5, at John H. Gengler Field. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Hettinger-Scranton senior Kyle Burwick runs up the field in a game against Richardton-Taylor-Hebron on Friday, Oct. 5, at John H. Gengler Field. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

RICHARDTON - "We feel so good, yeah we feel so good!"

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football fans cheer the same thing after every touchdown and in the 9-man regular-season finale against Hettinger-Scranton, the Raiders faithful screamed those words seven times, as the boys in blue downed the Night Hawks 52-20 on Friday, Oct. 5 at John H. Gengler field.

"It was the last game and it felt pretty good," senior Wyatt Kuhn said. "Just go out with a bang."

The 2-6 Night Hawks started strong against the playoff-bound Raiders, tackling the kick returner within the 20-yard line. After that, Hettinger-Scranton turned a three-and-out and forced a punt.

"We came out and we were pretty excited and had a nice defensive series right there and had some opportunities," Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick said. "We had a nice drive going. Unfortunately for us, we turned the ball over there."

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While the Night Hawks couldn't convert on the ensuing possession, they soon got the ball back on their own 40-yard line. Any momentum they had built was stripped away as Raiders senior Wyatt Kuhn returned a fumble for the opening score.

"I told these guys, every Friday, whoever we're playing, no matter what their record is, we have to be ready," Raiders head coach Seth Forster said. "Nobody in this region is going to give you a W just because you're 'supposed' to win. ... Right off the bat, they punched us in the mouth and our kids had to respond and I was proud of them."

In the second frame, Hettinger-Scranton got on the board. Converting on third down, senior Bo Wilson made a leaping catch to put the Night Hawks inside the 10-yard line. Senior Kyle Burwick capped off the drive with the touchdown rush.

With 1:16 left in the half, Burwick fought through traffic, broke out and ran along the left sideline to the end zone, bringing the score to 24-14.

For Randy Burwick, seeing Kyle succeed brings him pride not only as his coach, but as his father.

"I saw a kid that was leading," Randy Burwick said. "I've always wanted him to be a good leader on the football field and I thought he did that tonight. I thought he came out and he controlled the offense pretty well and did the things he was supposed to do. He loves the game of football."

As he has all season, senior running back Zach Schmalenberger led in scoring, finding the end zone three times in the second quarter. He finished the night with 168 yards over 23 carries.

But his runs were set up by senior quarterback Logan Hoff and the pass-game. With less than a minute in the first half, Hoff fired a beauty from midfield. Senior tight end Collin Kuntz made the improbable catch before stepping out of bounds a few yards shy of the goal line. On the next play, Schmalenberger scored, giving the Raiders a 30-14 lead at the half.

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Richardton-Taylor-Hebron stretched the advantage on the second half. A crazy catch from Kuhn in the corner of the end zone and an Elijah Vogle run put the Raiders up 46-14, starting the running clock.

Ahead of Kuhn's reception, the Raiders picked up their second fumble of the night, this one near the Night Hawks 30-yard line.

"We always talk about getting turnovers and how they're a difference in the game," Forster said. "Wyatt, Kuhn had a great game. He had the fumble recovery and went all the way and I can't say enough about how he played this evening. But yeah, turnovers, you look at that column and who had the most and you look at the other column and that team usually wins."

In the final frame, Vogle added another, as did the Night Hawks, with a touchdown pass to Bo Wilson with 4:58 left to play.

While Richardton-Taylor-Hebron will face Divide County in the first round of the 9-man playoffs on Oct. 13, the Night Hawks' season ended in Richardton on Friday.

"I told all those seniors, 'There's a day when it always comes to an end and unfortunately tonight is your night. So remember it.'" Randy Burwick said. "I think they will. They all played about as hard as they possible could have."

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron 52, Hettinger-Scranton 20

HS 0 14 0 6 - 20

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RTH 8 22 16 6 - 52

First quarter

RTH - Wyatt Kuhn fumble recovery, 7:21

Second quarter

RTH - Zach Schmalenberger rush, 9:48

HS - Kyle Burwick rush, 7:44

RTH - Schmalenberger rush, 6:05

HS - Burwick rush, 1:16

RTH - Schmalenberger, 31.9

Third quarter

RTH - Kuhn pass from Logan Hoff, 9:57

RTH - Elijah Vogle, 3:05

Fourth quarter

RTH - Vogle, 8:41

HS - Bo Wilson pass from Warrick Dilse, 4:58

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: RTH, Zach Schmalenberger 23-168 yards, 3 TDs; Elijah Vogle 11-48, 2 TDs. HS, Kyle Burwick 30-130, 2 TD.

PASSING: RTH, Logan Hoff 7-8, 143 yards, TD. HS, Warrick Dilse 7-16, 82 yards, TD.

RECEIVING: RTH, Wyatt Kuhn 2-59, TD; Collin Kuntz 2-60; Logan Kuntz 1-3; Vogle 1-29. HS, Bo Wilson 2-52; Jacob Dix 5-24.

Records: HS, 2-6 (1-6 Region 5). RTH, 5-3 (5-2 Region 5).

Related Topics: RICHARDTON-TAYLOR RAIDERS
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