The Chi-Hi football team slowed down New Richmond's powerful run game led by standout running back Andrew Trandahl and forced a late turnover to score a 21-14 homecoming victory at Dorais Field on Friday evening.
The Cardinals (4-1, 2-1) limited the junior Trandahl to less than four yards per carry with 103 rushing yards on 27 attempts and just one touchdown. Trandahl had run for a combined 464 yards and eight scores in New Richmond's previous two games versus Eau Claire Memorial and Superior but never fully got on track against the Cardinals.
“That’s exceptional," Chi-Hi coach Chuck Raykovich said of his team's effort on defense. "That kid is special. That kid he hits a seam he’s gone and I can prove that, I’ve got plenty of film on him."
New Richmond (4-1, 2-1) was driving late with a chance to potentially tie the game in the final minutes, moving into Cardinal territory before a third-and-long pass from quarterback Seamus Scanlan was picked off by Gavin Goodman to help clinch the victory for the Cardinals.
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The two ground-based teams breezed through the opening quarter with one possession each as the Tigers took the opening kickoff and methodically worked down the field before a fourth-and-seven pass from Scanlan into the end zone was dropped after a big hit from Chi-Hi defensive back Dawson Goodman to give the Cardinals the ball at the New Richmond 15-yard line. Chi-Hi responded with a drive that took up more than seven minutes as a 33-yard pass from Brayden Warwick to Judah Dunham set up the opening score of the game, a one-yard touchdown plunge from Karson Bowe.
Trandahl found the end zone for his lone score on New Richmond's next possession, leaping over the top of the Chi-Hi defense on a fourth-and-goal from the one yard line to tie the game with 4:22 left before halftime. The Cardinals took the lead right back with a 58-yard drive all on the ground ending with Warwick barrelling his way to the end zone on a 10-yard run with 1:26 left before the break to help send Chi-Hi into the locker room in front 13-7.
The two defenses traded fourth-down stops to start the second half before the Cardinals eventually took a two-score lead with 10:28 to go on Bowe's 18-yard touchdown run before Collin Beaudette added the two-point conversion to push the lead to 21-7.
“I’m still not happy with our point output but again, we’ve played some pretty good teams," Raykovich said. "I’ve always said my whole career if you score 21 points your chances of winning are pretty good and they proved it tonight.”
The Tigers had a quick response, briskly moving 69 yards on 10 plays with Scanlan finding Drew Effertz on a 10-yard score with a little under seven minutes to go.
Chi-Hi burned more than three minutes off the clock, but punted the ball back to the Tigers before coming up with one more stop to clinch the win.
“I’m really proud of our defense," New Richmond coach Reggie Larson said. "A big stop there forced it and gave us an opportunity to do it. I like the way we moved the ball, I just would’ve liked to finish the drive.”
Bowe ran for 96 yards on 18 carries while Warwick added 45 yards on the ground. Friday's game was the first for the Cardinals in two weeks, since a 21-14 loss to Menomonie at Dorais Field on Sept. 3. Last week Chi-Hi was scheduled to play at Eau Claire North but the Huskies forfeited due to COVID-19 concerns within their program.
The Cardinals rebounded from that loss in a big way and enter the second half of the regular season in a four-way tie for second place in the Big Rivers with Hudson, Menomonie and New Richmond. Those four teams are one game behind Rice Lake, the team the Cardinals face on the road next Friday.
“It was a great high school football game," Raykovich said of the win.