The Becker Bulldogs rained on Hutchinson’s party Friday night at S.R. Knutson Field.
On a night when the Tiger football program celebrated its six championship teams and honored longtime coaches Grady and Andy Rostberg by putting their name on the stadium, the Tigers fell to Becker 24-22 for their first loss of the season.
To some, that would seem like a major upset. The Tigers are the reigning Class 4A champs and were ranked No. 1 going into the game, while Becker was not ranked in the top 10. But the rivalry between the Tigers and Bulldogs is one of those where the cliche “throw out the records” holds true.
“We try to leave it all on the field every time,” Hutchinson senior Alex Elliott said after the game. “We know they’re going to be punching us in the throat, and we’re going to try to punch them in the throat.”
In fact, it was Becker that handed Hutch its only loss of the season last year, and the Tigers went into that game 3-0 as well. So you can forgive fans if it felt like deja vu following the loss.
“Last year we did the same thing, we didn’t play as well as we could against Becker, and in this game I think we all know we still have a lot in the tank and could have played a lot better,” Elliott said.
The game started off promisingly amid a light drizzle that persisted most of the night. The Tigers scored on their first two possessions. Levi Teetzel ran in a pair of touchdowns from 30 and 81 yards to give the Tigers a quick 14-0 lead after only six plays on offense.
After struggling to get going in the first quarter, Becker wasn’t shaken by Hutch’s quick scores and continued a balanced attack that eventually wore away at the Tigers’ defense. On their third possession, the Bulldogs settled for a field goal. And then with 1:16 left in the half, they scored their first touchdown to cut Hutch’s lead to 14-10.
Becker continued that momentum into the second half. The Tigers got the ball to start the third quarter but quickly punted after three plays, and the Bulldogs marched from their 32-yard line to the end zone to take the lead.
Hutch’s offense continued to sputter on the ground and in the air, and it was made worse by multiple penalties and a turnover that squelched opportunities.
“You’ve got to give Becker a lot of credit, they played really well, and we need to play better,” Hutchinson coach Andy Rostberg said. “We didn’t deserve to win tonight. We had a couple of big penalties, a big turnover, and we’ve got to be able to complete passes.”
Through the air, quarterback Logan Butler was 0-for-7.
The Tigers mounted a fourth-quarter comeback, spurred on by a big defensive play from Elliott, who recovered a Becker fumble at Hutch’s 7-yard line. Another long 68-yard run from Teetzel set up a 3-yard touchdown dive from AJ Ladwig, and gave the Tigers a 22-17 lead. But that was the team’s last points, as they were never able to sustain long drives.
“We didn’t run the ball very well tonight,” Rostberg said. “We had a couple long ones, but we had too many second-and-10s, second-and-nines, third-and-eights. We had a lot of those tonight, and we want third-and-threes or second-and-fives.”
Teetzel led the offense with 282 yards on the ground, but the Tigers only had 316 total yards of offense.
After Hutch scored with a little more than eight minutes left in the game, Becker got the ball back and drove down the field, eating up four minutes of clock and scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard plunge.
The Tigers got the ball back with time to score, but they failed to get far and faltered, allowing the Bulldogs to kneel out the rest of the game.
It’s a tough way to lose after averaging 45 points per game and outscoring opponents 133-21 in the first three games. But the Tigers don’t have time to sulk. This week is Homecoming and they have another big test with Rocori. The Spartans are 5-0 and lead the North Central White District standings. They’re also one of the top-rated teams in Class 4A.
“They’re bigger than Becker, and they’ve got a great quarterback, good defense and good receivers,” Rostberg said.
Tigers faithful hope Friday’s stumble against Becker lights a fire like it did last year, when Hutchinson followed a loss to the Bulldogs with nine straight wins and the Prep Bowl.
“We know next week there’s going to be a little more fire, a little more pop,” Elliott said. “We’re not going to look down on this (lose) too much.”
Becker 24, Hutchinson 22 (Sept. 23)
Becker … 0 10 7 7
Hutchinson … 0 14 0 8
H—Levi Teetzel 30 run (Teetzel run failed)
H—Teetzel 81 run (Logan Butler pass to Charlie Renner)
B—Zachary Bengtson 38 field goal
B—Bengtson 26 pass to Logan Eisele (Bengtson kick)
H—Bengtson 3 pass to Kyan Blomquist (Bengtson kick)
H—AJ Ladwig 3 run (Teetzel pass to Renner)
B—Isaiah Gardner 1 run (Bengtson kick)
Rushing — Hutch: 33-316
Passing yards — Hutch: 0-0
Total offense — Hutch: 316; Becker: 333
Passing: Butler 0/7-0-0-0
Rushing: Teetzel 22-282; Ladwig 8-27; Butler 2-2; Alex Elliott 1-5
Fumble recovered: Elliott 1