In a battle of two unbeaten teams, No. 3 ranked Medford handed the Rhinelander Hodag football team (No. 10 rank)their first loss of the season. The Raiders jumped out to an early start and RHS's offense was quiet until the fourth quarter. Medford powdered past and would win 39-14 at Raider Field on Friday night.
The Raiders raced out to a 19-0 advantage in the first quarter which was helped at the cost of two Hodag turnovers. Rhinelander's defense forced a three-and-out to start the game but that momentum was short-lived. Senior Peyton Erikson had a muffed punt to give Medford the ball on Rhinelander's 9 that was recovered by Emett Grunwald. Running back Ean Wilson took advantage and scored his first of four touchdowns on the night and the Raiders would also score on their next three possessions.
On the next possession the Hodags were forced to punt and they would give up another touchdown to Wilson to fall behind 13-0. Senior Drake Martin fumbled the ball on the following play, and the Raiders again would capitalize on Rhinelander's mistakes. Grunwald scored on an 11-yard run to give Medford a 19-0 advantage with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Wilson added another touchdown at 9:29 in the second. The Raiders would take a convincing 27-0 lead at halftime. Grunwald capped off a drive on the first possession of the third quarter to put Medford up 33-0.
Despite the score, Rhinelander finally make some strides in the final quarter where they scored both of their touchdowns of the night. Junior quarterback Quinn Lamers found senior Conner Lund on a 46-yard pass that put RHS deep into Medford territory. Walker Hartman scored two plays later from a yard out in the opening snap of the fourth quarter and he also scored the two-point conversion to put the Hodags on the board.
Rhinelander forced the Raiders to turn the ball over on downs, and would again march down the field, this time against Medford's second-string. Erikson then scored a one-yard run and another successful two-point conversion gave RHS their final points of the night. The Hodags would recover an onside kick, and the Raiders would bring their starters back in to finish the contest.
Coming into the match up, Rhinelander only gave up 103.5 rushing yards per game, but would give up 319 yards on the ground to Medford. Which accounted for about 94% of their yards, with 19-yards passing. RHS also only converted 3-12 third-down conversions while the Raiders were 9-14. Wilson led the way for Medford with 215 yards on 34 carries and four touchdowns. Grunwalk added 67 yards on 14 carries and a pair of scores.
Rhinelander's offense came into Friday night averaging 284 yards per game but were held to only 219 total yards. Erikson and Hartman have very similar stats on the night with each carrying the ball seven times and both recording eight tackles on defense. Erikson had 30 yards and Hartman added 28 yards as well a a sack.Ben Sinclair also chipped in five tackles. Lamers finished 9-21 for 138 yards and no interceptions. Erikson and Jackson Labs each had three catches.
Martin was held to a career low of 16 rushing yards on nine carries. He left the game late in the third quarter and did not return. Linebacker Nathan Kempf and lineman Tyler Olson also left the game early due to injuries. But all three are expected to be back in action against Antigo. Medford advanced to 5-0 and are now playoff eligible. RHS fell to 11 in the Great Northern Conference and 4-1 overall.
Rhinelander is looking to redeem themselves this Friday for the 85th Bell Game that will be at Mike Webster Stadium. The Hodags have not won the Bell since 2006 and are looking to break the streak. Kick-off is set for 7:00PM.