The consensus from the Rapid City Stevens sideline was that it is a better team than it showed Friday night.
At the MidCo Rushmore Bowl at O'Harra Stadium, the Raiders turned the ball over four times and lost to Watertown 46-13.
“We were not mentally ready to play, and that was obvious from the first play of the game. We had kids who didn’t even know what the play was,” Stevens coach Scott Hagen said. “We were not focused, we were yelling at personel to get on the field.”
The game got off to a disastrous start for the Raiders, as quarterback Teigan Heckel was hit and fumbled, with the ball was recovered by Watertown’s Nick Geffre. Three plays later, Brandon Florey connected with Parker Schmidt for a 14-yard score with 9:33 left in the first.
Florey finished 10-of-16 for 156 yards and three touchdowns, one of which came on the next series when he Garrett Determan in stride for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
“We did a good job of getting out on them early,” Watertown coach John Hodorff said. “They had the unfortunate mistake with the fumble early. We capitalized on it, they get down a little bit and then we made some pretty big plays. We have some pretty good speed and our guys made some big plays tonight.”
The turnover problems continued for Stevens, as a Heckel interception by the Arrows' Adam DeJong led to a 30-yard touchdown run by Florey on the next series.
The first quarter ended with the Raiders putting together a drive, only to have it end with another Heckel fumble. That fumble resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run from DeJong, and after a missed extra point, Watertown led 27-0 with 9:04 left in the first half.
The Raiders got on the board on the next series, a six-play, 57-yard drive that ended with Heckel connecting with Bridger Nesbit on a 21-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good.
Watertown got on the board once before the half ended, with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Florey to Jake Werner, the extra point was missed and at halftime the Arrows led 33-6.
Things didn’t get better for the Raiders in the second half. Watertown stretched the lead to 46-6 at the end of the third quarter on two Garrett Determan touchdowns (24-yard run and 86-yard punt return).
The Arrows didn’t score in the fourth while Stevens added a touchdown on a 11-yard pass from Heckel to Ryan Brink with 7:25 to go.
Watertown’s leading rusher was also Florey, who had 61 yards on just four carries and a touchdown. For the Raiders, Heckel went 10-of-20 for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Philip Walls led the way on the ground with 15 carries for 66 yards.
The loss drops Stevens to 1-2 on the season and it will face Aberdeen Central on the road next Friday. Hagen said the Raiders are going to need to do some soul-searching before that.
“We got punched in the mouth pretty good and we have to decide if we want to play again next week,” he said. “We’re a way better football team than what we showed tonight. I don’t know what happened, but we just weren’t mentally ready to play.”
Hodorff said what helped the Arrows is that despite is undefeated record, now to 3-0, they didn’t come into the game with the mentality of being the favorite.
“They had just crushed Spearfish and they had the unfortunate game against Sioux Falls Roosevelt where they were missing a bunch of guys,” he said. “We knew we’d have to play as hard as we could early, especially on the road. We came here expecting a complete battle, and I still think Stevens is a better team that it showed today.”