Raiders respond to early adversity, excel late to beat River Falls

River Falls tackler Jaden Schwantz gets away with pulling on Emett Grunwald's facemask, while Medford gets called for holding on a first-down play in the Wildcats' red zone during Friday's WIAA Division 3 Level 2 playoff game, won the by Raiders 16-14. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsMedford’s Colton Surek and Blaine Seidl drop River Falls quarterback Peter Noreen for a 2-yard second-quarter loss, while Joe Gierl (65) helps finish the play off. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsDoug Way (l.) and Isaac Zepeda celebrate Way's 26-yard touchdown reception, which gives Medford a 7-6 lead over River Falls with 56 seconds left in Friday's first half. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star NewsMedford Raiders Riley Herman (88), Nate Doriot, Colton Surek, Clay Bowe (58) and Carson Kleist bury River Falls’ Jaden Schawntz, holding him to a 16-yard kickoff return during the third quarter of Friday’s 16-14 Level 3 playoff win. Photo by Matt Frey/The Star News

It took 11 games, but the Medford Raiders got their first full 48-minute test of the 2019 football season Friday and, after some shaky moments early, came out with a passing grade in a thrilling 16-14 win over River Falls in their WIAA Division 3 Level 2 battle at Raider Field.
In playoff football, the grades are pass or fail, and the Raiders got the desired result by scoring 14 points off two game-changing Wildcat turnovers, including a big touchdown just before halftime, running for 228 yards against a stout River Falls defense while erasing an early 6-0 deficit and playing much-improved second-half defense, particularly on two fourth-quarter stands.
The first of those stands ended in a high snap that Wildcat punter Joe Stoffel kicked out of the end zone for the tie-breaking safety with 8:59 left in the game that ultimately won it for the 11-0 Raiders.
“We’ve talked about that for quite a bit of the year, that at some point in time we’re going to face some adversity,” Medford head coach Ted Wilson said.
For the full story, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of The Star News.

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