Rivera’s Clutch Play Dooms Hillsdale

The Hillsdale Chargers lost at home Saturday 31 to 24 to Northern Michigan University. The following are some thoughts from Charger radio play-by-play broadcaster Andy Brown.

As devastating as Nick Gurrica’s punt return turnover was, it was not the reason the Chargers lost the Northern game. Hillsdale’s defense had the Wildcat offense third and long on the drive directly following Gurica’s muff. Northern quarterback Buddy Rivera found Greg Raspberry for a 19-yard touchdown pass, but only after Andy Dion had Rivera all but sacked, and then another Charger nearly brought him down. That play began a 17-0 run that put Northern ahead for the first time, and ultimately lifted the Wildcats to the victory.

Time and time again, on third or even fourth down and long, Buddy Rivera found wide open receivers for big plays to keep drives going, or to put points on the board. None of these clutch conversions could rival Rivera’s play on 4th and 10 with just over 4 minutes left in the game. Rivera hooked up with Tyler Schrauben on a 12-yard route that kept Northern alive. Just four plays later, Rivera hit a wide open Greg Raspberry on a 55-yard touchdown pass that effectively broke Hillsdale’s back.

Sure, people will ask what on earth the Chargers’ secondary was doing, especially on that final touchdown pass. But the bigger factor to me was the fact that Buddy Rivera refused to allow his team to lose. The Chargers were one play away from blowing Northern out in the first quarter, but a little luck and Rivera’s determination made the difference.

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