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Late score, second-half defense carries Raiders over Night Hawks

HETTINGER -- On a 3rd-and-long pass with 3 minutes to go in a tied game, senior Richardton-Taylor-Hebron quarterback Brendan Butterfield initially could find no open receivers.In the moment, Butterfield seemed to be scanning downfield for an eter...

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Richardton-Taylor-Hebron senior Andrew Perrin, left, tackles Hettinger-Scranton running back Isaiah Kludt during a Region 5 9-man game Friday in Hettinger. (Press Photo by Samuel Evers)

HETTINGER - On a 3rd-and-long pass with 3 minutes to go in a tied game, senior Richardton-Taylor-Hebron quarterback Brendan Butterfield initially could find no open receivers.
In the moment, Butterfield seemed to be scanning downfield for an eternity.
Sensing the rush, he evaded a few would-be tacklers and finally found a man open. He hit junior running back Matthew Naumann, who had leaked free from the defense, and he darted 45 yards to the Hettinger-Scranton 20-yard line.
The play set up Butterfield’s eventual 3-yard rushing touchdown, and with a two point conversion, the Raiders held on 28-20 over their Region 5 9-man rival.
“I didn’t even know it was coming but it was a great catch and pass, I was happy I was so open,” said Naumann of his catch. “I knew we were about to get sacked and I saw an opportunity to get the ball.”
That third down conversion immediately followed a game-tying touchdown from the Night Hawks (1-1, 0-1), which first bounced off a cornerback’s hands and then into the arms of junior Isaiah Kludt.
After a few unsuccessful Hail Mary attempts, the clock hit zero.
The difference in the Raiders’ (2-0, 1-0) turnaround was obvious. They were able to contain Kludt, who, besides that touchdown catch to tie the game up in the fourth quarter, was contained after putting his stamp all over the first 24 minutes of play.
“You just cannot emulate what he does in practice. You have to see it. Then you have to adjust to it,” said RTH head coach Travis Olson. “We thought we figured it out, but obviously, first play of the game, we were wowed. The kid is as good as I’ve ever seen. He is.”
That first play of the game was a 59-yard touchdown run for Kludt, who finished with 176 yards on the ground, most of which came early on.
A few possessions later, while on defense, he intercepted Butterfield. Then, a few minutes later, burned a cornerback and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jaxon Mellmer.

But after the 12-0 advantage, the momentum began to switch. RTH stole a touchdown on an 8-yard run by Naumann right before the half. After a failed 2-point conversion, the score at intermission was 12-6.
The Night Hawks’ offense went silent when the game resumed, just as RTH’s offense was finding its rhythm. The Raiders took their first lead of the game about halfway through the third quarter, when junior Ryan Woroniecki converted a 4th-and-goal run for a touchdown. The successful 2-point conversion put them up 14-12.
The Night Hawks tried to answer on the next possession, patching together a drive that brought them into Raider territory, but were thwarted on fourth down. In all, the Night Hawks failed three 4th-down conversions in the second half.
“I think they did a very good job defensively in the second half. Isaiah was getting some things early, and we knew that was going to happen,” Night Hawks head coach Randy Burwick said. “But Coach Olson is a damn good coach. I knew they were going to make some adjustments. We made some plays in the second half, there just weren’t enough of them.”
The game was 14-12 until the fourth quarter, when a seemingly harmless screen pass from Butterfield to Naumann turned into an 81-yard touchdown. Naumann finished with two catches - both were his team’s biggest offensive plays of the game. Butterfield didn’t drop back to pass too often but found success when he did. He was 7 for 10 for 170 yards.
“We just hung in there, doing what we do,” Olson said. “It’s nice to have guys like Brendan Butterfield who just makes plays happen with his arm. He was under a lot of pressure and made a lot of things happen. Matthew is a threat too. He’s a very green running back. That was his second game as a running back ever. He’s getting better every day.”
For Olson, who has seen his fair share of games between these two, this comeback was good as it gets.
“It’s right up there. It was a real special night for us,” Olson said. “We’ve always had some great games with Hettinger-Scranton. But this one, it’s right up there.”

Richardton-Taylor-Hebron 28, Hettinger-Scranton 20
RTH 0 6 8 14 - 28
HS 6 6 0 8 - 20
First quarter
HS - Isaiah Kludt 59 run (conversion no good), 11:43
Second quarter
HS - Jaxon Mellmer 29 pass to Kludt (conversion no good), 10:38
RTH - Matthew Naumann 8 run (conversion no good)
Third quarter
RTH - Ryan Woroniecki 1 run (Butterfield run), 6:55
Fourth quarter
RTH - Butterfield 81 pass Naumann (conversion no good), 10:12
HS - Mellmer 47 pass Kludt (Kludt run), 3:31
RTH - Butterfield 3 run (Butterfield to Kuntz), :16
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING: HS, Isaiah Kludt 22-167 1 TD; Hudson Pierce 11-22; Kyle Burwick 3-5. RTH, Matthew Naumann 17-66 1 TD; Ethan Kuntz 5-28; Ryan Woroniecki, 6-10 1 TD; Brendan Butterfield 5-7 1 TD.
PASSING: RTH, Butterfield 7-10-1, 170 yards, 1 TD. HS, Jaxon Meller 4-7-0, 91 yards 2 TDs; Hudson Pierce 0-2-0.

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