Packers put up fight, but come up short in opener
The Austin football team never lost its gusto, but it did lose the game after a late drive came up short in a 21-20 loss to Northfield in the season opener in Art Hass Stadium Friday.
After Northfield’s Brayden Brakke converted a six-yard TD run to make it 21-20 with 8:44 left in the game, Austin started from its own 23-yard line and went to work. Jack Lang turned out an eight-yard scramble to give the Packers a first down on third and eight and Joseph Walker bullied out a two yard run on fourth and two to give Austin a first down at the Northfield 39 with 2:37 left.
The Packers ran out of magic when Lang’s pass sailed just out of reach of Victor Idris on the right sideline on the Northfield 30 yard line with 59 seconds left in the game.
“We battled right to the end,” Austin head coach Ed Schmitt said. “It was Jack’s second game and he talked about his nerves and he overthrew a little bit. He’s young and I just told the guys that if we’re not learning from every game, then we’re not making progress. There’s a lot of things to take away from this game. The effort was phenomenal.”
Austin seized a 20-14 lead when Idris hauled in a 43-yard bomb from Lang, who converted a 13-yard TD run with 10:44 left in the game.
Austin received big plays from its line on both sides of the ball as the Raiders had just five runs of 10 yards or more. Austin senior Andrew Sayles was a big part of that success and he also gave the team a big boost on the offensive line.
“I never played defense before and I love defense now. It was so fun. They put me in everywhere on the defensive line,” Sayles said. “This was a way better performance than we ever had. We have those low numbers and seeing the effort we put out is impressive. The team we’ve got right now, I love them all and I love working with them.”
Walker, who ran for 163 yards, provided a bulk of Austin’s punch in the first half as he broke free for a 12-yard TD run on a dive play and juked his way free for a 64-yard TD burst down the left sideline to make it 14-7 Austin with 5:08 left in the second quarter.
“Our offensive line and defensive line are our strengths,” Schmitt said. “We’ve still got work to do, but Joe ran hard and he cramped up at the end because he was running so hard.”
The Raiders had driven past Austin’s 30-yard line in the final minute of the second half, when Walker made a huge play on defense – making a tackle on fourth and five at the 23-yard line. The play ended the Northfield drive two yards short of a first down with 14 seconds left in the half.
Northfield 0 7 0 14 — 21
Austin 0 14 0 7 — 20
(A) Joseph Walker 12 run (Joe Ewing kick) (7 plays, 76 yards) 11:54
(N) Tate Journell 25 pass from Soren Richardson (Jayden Wefel kick) (5 plays, 80 yards) 9:45
(A) Walker 64 run (Ewing kick) (1 play 64 yards) 5:08
(N) Richardson 1 run (Wefel kick) 11:55
(A) Jack Lang 13 run (kick failed) (4 plays, 56 yards) 10:44
(N) Brayden Brakke 6 run (6 plays, 54 yards) (Wefel kick) 8:44
Rushing: Joseph Walker, 22-for-163, 2 TDs; Jack Lang, 6-for-14; Lathan Wilson, 1-for-(-1); Toby Holtz, 1-for-0
Passing: Lang, 3-for-9, 77
Receiving: Victor Idris, 2-for-67; Manny Guy, 1-for-10
Defense: Buai Duop, 1 fumble recovery