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Last-minute play earn Redhawks shocker over Hudson 8-6

September 26, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama football's undefeated season and quest for the postseason roll along as the Redhawks escaped Hudson 8-6 on Friday, Sept. 20 with the biggest play of the night in the final seconds leaving both sidelines in disbelief.

"We felt in that situation that we needed to go all in on that play," Coach Tom McDermott said. "We had worked on throwing short all night and Hudson played for the long pass."

Quarterback Skyler Staker was five of 14 throwing for 31 yards on the night. Tate Payne hauled in two catches for 14 yards. Yet when it counted the most, the two seniors connected deep for a 62-yard play, giving the Redhawks 8-6 lead with only 19 seconds on the game clock. The Pirates had no answer for the play after holding the North Tama offense in check all night long. After walking onto Dennis field last season to spoil North Tama's Homecoming in overtime 24-21, the Redhawks turned around this year to shock Hudson's Homecoming game night.

Article Photos

Cory Isenhower (54) and Noah Weber (23) bring down Hudson running back Ethan Fulcher during North Tama's 8-6 win on Friday, Sept. 20. Photo courtesy of the Waterloo Courier

"Tate Payne made an outstanding catch, but made an even better effort to get away from his defender to score," McDermott said. "Skyler had misfired on a few throws on the night, but that throw was exactly where it needed to be."

Hudson walked into this key District matchup with their first win of the season coming at GMG the previous week. Injuries had plagued the defending Class A champions up until this game as 2018 All-State running back/linebacker Ethan Fulcher took to the field for the first time this season.

"We knew [Fulcher] was planning on playing and could be very good," Coach McDermott said. "[Aiden] Zook had missed a couple of games and was an outstanding players for them. Their line was tremendous and man-handled us on both sides of the ball. We had trouble blocking them and credit has to go to Hudson for what they did to our running game."

Throughout the game, the Redhawks mustered 26 yards rushing, with 25 of those positive yards coming from Weber as opposed to the Pirates' 167 yards total. Dropped passes diminished the impact of the North Tama's passing game. Overall, the Redhawks had three first downs in the game.

"During the week, we talked about how points were going to be at a premium in this ball game," McDermott said. "We didn't want to make any major mistakes. Our defense is capable of playing well to keep the game close. We had a couple of opportunities to score we didn't."

A touchdown by the Pirates early in the second half would the home team a 6-0 edge after a blocked run for two. The Redhawks saw their defense step up in the middle of the third quarter to put up points via a safety.

"We had gone after their punts because we could give them trouble with our rush," McDermott said. "Zach Greiner almost had the ball recovered in the end zone, but couldn't come up with the ball. Hudson recovered for the safety. Obviously those two points ended up being big for us."

The rest was history as Staker and Payne would put the Redhawks up with their late touchdown and give North Tama a 2-0 start in District play, currently tied with Grundy Center. Defensively, the Redhawks were led by Luke Pennell with 10 total tackles, followed by Staker with eight total tackles, and Ryan McLean and Jay Hill with seven total tackles each.

"The biggest thing we should come away with from this game is the idea of never giving up," McDermott said. "It certainly looked like things we're going to end well despite us playing so well defensively. Skyler had some tremendous punts to keep us in the ball game. We were fortunate on how this game ended because our kids didn't quit."

The Redhawks continue District play with a Homecoming matchup with East Buchanan on Friday, Sept. 27 as the third game in what McDermott has previously stated is a "brutal" four-game stretch. An away game at Grundy Center on October 4 marks the final game of the stretch.

"East Buchanan played Grundy Center very well," McDermott said. "They are a young team, but very physical. They used to be a real power-running team, but are throwing the ball and have talented skill kids this year. It's going to be another tough game like we've seen the last few weeks."

North Tama is currently 4-0 on the season (2-0 in District 7). Nine unbeaten teams remain in Class A. The 10 District champions receive an automatic bid in the playoffs and the remaining six spots are determined by an RPI system. According to Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and new to 2019, ties in a District will be settled by which team won the regular season contest. If three teams are tied for first in their District, the team with the highest RPI will be selected. RPI standings will be published weekly beginning on Monday, Sept. 30.



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