Sep. 25—RICHADRTON, N.D. — As expected, the Friday Night Lights in Richardton were an absolute battleground between two teams, both vying to untether themselves from a winless season. While most of the time such games are all but ignored by the media, Friday's performance was one for the ages.
For the Richardton-Taylor-Hebron football program it had been three years since their last win, but the curse was lifted in a narrow victory against Beach in a 26-20 double-overtime finale. With many young players on the squad, many players had yet to taste the glory of a varsity win, yet they played the part as winners, tightly embracing one another.
Rainy weather made for an epic backdrop and showed the commitment of the fans on the sidelines just as much as the players on the field. The Buccaneers' lead in the second half seemed crippling, especially when they extended their lead 14-6 in the third quarter. However, a zealous Raiders team would further dig their heels in with an unstoppable will to win.
"We knew it would come down to a night like this. Wet, rainy all night, a back-and-forth game. The message all week to our guys was, 'Whoever wants this one more is going to win,'" Brady Martin, Raiders head coach, said. "These players needed it, this program needed it. It just feels really good right now."
Richardton-Taylor-Hebron were able to tie the game in the fourth quarter via wide receiver Mathew Aune's collected pass for the two-point conversion. Unfortunately, Aune would be injured a few plays later.
Beach was not going down without a fight.
Sawyer Noll breaking tackles, rumbled and tumbled his way to finding space on the outside for first downs. His brother Emery Noll being the team's top notch gunslingers kept the chains moving from the comfort of a well-protected pocket. Momentum would stifle however, as they would suffer two critical fumbles — both recovered by the Raiders, including Caisen Dohrmann's recovery of a late fourth quarter fumble that would effectively thwart their opponents possible game winning drive.
"Just win [was the game plan]," Dohrmann said. "We really wanted this one ... We put in a lot of effort and I couldn't ask for anything more [from my teammates]. We really just showed up today."
The game went into overtime with RTH taking possession first and scoring six points with tight end delayed pass to Kane Rivinius from nine yards out. Not to be outdone, Beach would respond with a touchdown of their own to tie it at 20 and then nearly took the lead, but a holding call would dismiss their go-ahead rushing touchdown. A fourth down passing attempt would end uncompleted and kill their drive.
The Raiders would suffer the same fate, with junior Brycen Glass scoring a touchdown on a long rush — but it would be called back due to laundry on the field. Stepping back into their formation, Glass would receive the ball deep on a bullet to the right side that connected...this time without flags.
The entire sideline crowded around him in the glory of a victory that would bring much needed relief to a 27 game skid stretching back three seasons. In honor of assistant coach Travis Olson's birthday, they dedicated the final passing touchdown to him.
"We knew we had to score. It was his birthday and we got that for Travis Olson," Glass said. "The whole coaching staff have helped me so much over the years. Just getting better and better and then we finally did it."
Glass was a gamer on both sides of the ball, totaling 15 carries for 85 yards and collecting touchdowns on the ground and twice in the air for 60 yards. All tallied, Glass produced 145 all-purpose yards. On the defensive side of the ball as linebacker, he led with 13 solo tackles and four assists, with his nearest teammate, Hadley Paulson, garnering 6 solo and 5 assist.
The Raider stand-out junior also gave recognition to his freshman quarterback Chase Christensen, for delivering "a beautiful ball." Christensen would complete half his 10 throws, for 84 yards and 3 passing touchdowns.
Following the game winning drive, the Raiders rushed to the westside of the field where they would surround a large brass bell and ring it 26 times — one for each point scored.
Afterward the huddle around their coaches offering a few words, but who were equally at a loss for words. The message they did offer was for them to get used to winning. They broke the huddle by singing happy birthday to Olson and were immediately swamped by parents, loved ones and friends.
"I never had a feeling like that before in my life," Glass said. "Tears were coming out and just joy and everything was happening around me. I can not describe it, but it is a beautiful feeling."