Watertown claims win against Tigers

Curt Nettinga of the Plainsman
Posted 9/1/23

The Watertown Arrows defeat Huron on the gridiron

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Watertown claims win against Tigers


HURON — The Watertown Arrows converted three touchdowns of greater than 70 yards, capitalizing on a two costly Huron Tiger turnovers and pulling away late for a 32-13 win. The Arrows move to 2-0 with the win, while Huron sees its record fall to 0-2.

The game became a conflict between Huron being able to move the ball down the field, and the Arrows’ ability to take advantage of Tiger mishaps and then use their sizable front line to open holes in the Tiger defense down the stretch.

“We were really fighting ourselves out there tonight,” said Huron coach Dru Strand. “We had some misreads, that led to a couple of costly turnovers. Without those miscues, I think we were able to be competitive, but we really played uncertain at times tonight. They made plays, we didn’t.”

Watertown took the opening kickoff and after chalking up a pair of first downs, to move into Huron territory, but a block in the back penalty negated a run that would have carried them deep into Tiger territory and the drive fizzled as Huron’s defense pressured Arrow quarterback Treyton Himmerich into back-to-back incompletions.

After a touchback on the punt, Huron began to move the ball up the field. Cashton Caudell churned out yards on the ground and a pair of Colt McNeil passes - 18-yards to CJ Cainey and 10 yards to Gavin Moeding kept the chains moving. Huron moved to the Watertown 20, but a loss on a running play and a holding penalty forced the Tigers into a 41-yard field goal attempt by Nick Kleinsasser that fell short.

Watertown took over again and quickly moved into Huron territory, as the Arrows opened sizable holes for running back Juven Hudson. The drive stalled at the Huron 35-yard line when Himmerich lobbed a pass to Owen Peterson that was incomplete. A late flag, however, was thrown for pass interference, and Watertown got a new set of downs. They wasted no time, as Hudson carried twice, the second one a 15-yard scoring scamper and at the 9:39 mark of the second quarter the score was 7-0 after a Tom Foley point after.

Huron’s Haydon Shurson carries the ball as Ethan Busch blocks during a kickoff return in Friday’s game against Watertown at Tiger Stadium.

Huron struck back nearly immediately, as McNeil rolled left under pressure, and found Caudell unattended on the left sideline. Caudell caught the pass, got a block to take out the lone defender in the area, and coasted 82-yards to paydirt. Kleinsasser tacked on the PAT and the score was tied with 8:37 to play in the half.

Watertown took the ball and again began riding Hudson, but just after getting into Huron territory, Hudson was jarred by Holden Hegg and coughed up the ball, which was covered by Hegg.

With new life, Huron moved down the field, as McNeil completed a 28-yard pass to Kolby Hofer, and a roughing the passer penalty tacked on 15 more yards, setting the Tigers up with a first down on the Watertown 29. A running play lost two yards, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Arrows moved the ball to the 16 yard line.

However, the turnover bug struck back, as McNeil was pressured, lost the ball and Watertown’s Lincoln Schutt scooped up the ball and outran Caudell for the 80-yard score. The PAT was wide and Watertown led 13-7 with two and a half minutes to play.

Huron failed to move the ball, and a high snap sailed over punter Hofer’s head. He covered the ball at the Huron two-yard line, putting the Arrows on the doorstep.

A Hudson run lost two yards and then Himmerich tossed a pass into the end zone, only to see Moeding pick it off and return the ball to midfield, where the half ended.

Building on the momentum of the drive ending turnover by the Arrows, the Tigers took the second half kickoff and began moving the ball, using a mix of run-pass option runs by McNeill, combined with a couple of Moeding catches to move into Watertown territory. Facing a fourth and short yardage play, McNeil threw over the middle and Kaden Decker stepped in front of the Tiger receiver, juking past McNeil and setting sail on a 74-yard pick-six. A Foley PAT made it 20-7 less than five minutes into the second half.

After the ensuing kickoff, Huron again began marching, but saw the drive stall just into Watertown territory on downs. The Tiger defense stopped the Arrows cold and a high snap on the punt attempt rolled to the Watertown 14-yard line. But Huron was unable to capitalize and turned the ball back over on downs, deep in Arrow territory.

That was important, as after another Huron defensive stand, took a short Watertown punt and returned it to the Arrow 25 yard line. The offense again sputtered, however, and despite a McNeil/Moeding pass and catch that came close to first down yardage, the Tigers turned it over on the 14-yard line.

A short dive by Hudson went for no gain, then the halfback broke left and cut upfield, outrunning Caudell for an 86-yard touchdown. The PAT was blocked, but Watertown held a 26-7 lead with just over eight minutes to play.

Huron’s special teams unit including Bubba Peterson (30), Blake Ellwein (85) and Leeam Davis (54) block an extra-point attempt by Watertown during their game Friday at Tiger Stadium.

Huron went three and out on its next possession, seeing a potential first-down conversion pass fall short, turning the ball back to the Arrows at the Tiger 35, and Hudson made quick work of the drive, scampering 35-yards around the right end on the first play and scored.

Needing a quick score to right the ship, McNeil hit Ethan Busch with a short pass to the right flat. Busch shook loose, gathered some blockers and completely reversed the field en route to a 52-yard catch and run. Caudell followed it with a 23-yard run down the left sideline and Huron had it first and goal. But two runs for no gain and two incomplete passes turned the ball back to Arrows, who were happy to run the ball and the clock.

A poor punt by the Arrows gave the ball back to Huron with just over a minute to play. The Tigers ran the ball twice and managed a third snap just before time expired and Ethan Olson took advantage, bouncing off a couple of Arrow defenders, and sprinting to a 22-yard score as the clock hit zero, to make the final score 32-13

Caudell led the Tiger rushing attack with 67 yards in the game, while McNeil was 12/25 through the air for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Hudson ran the ball 18 times for 199 yards and three scores for the Arrows.

“I think the guys are ready to get back to work to clean up and address the mistakes we made tonight,” Strand said. “We certainly have things to work on to get ready for Brookings next week.”

Huron will travel to Brookings to take on the Bobcats on Sept. 9, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Score by quarters
Watertown     0 13 7 12 — 32

Huron            0   7 0   6 — 13

Scoring summary

1st Quarter
No score

2nd Quarter
Watertown — 9:39 - Juven Hudson, 15-yard run. Tom Foley PAT.
Huron — 8:37 - Cashton Caudell, 82-yard pass from Colt McNeil. Nick Kleinsasser PAT.
Watertown — 2:26 - Lincoln Schutt, 80-yard fumble return. PAT failed.

3rd quarter
Watertown — 7:24 - Kaden Decker, 74-yard interception return. Foley PAT.

4th quarter
Watertown — 8:04 - Hudson, 86-yard run, PAT blocked.
Watertown — 7:05 - Hudson, 35-yard run, PAT failed.
Huron — :01 - Ethan Olson, 22-yard run. No PAT.