The Raiders (3-2; 3-2 SEC) stunned the No. 3-ranked Raptors with a touchdown with 24.3 seconds remaining to win 10-7 on Friday, Sept. 27, in at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.
On 4th-and-6, Cretin-Derham Hall senior quarterback Ricardo Johnson connected with junior receiver Aitor Flood on a 19-yard touchdown pass for the game-winning score. Flood caught the ball at the 3-yard line, slipped a tackle at the 1-yard line, then fumbled the ball – but not before crossing the goal line.
With no time left on the clock, a 52-yard desperation heave from sophomore quarterback Seth Green to senior Xavier Cole came very close to connecting in the Cretin-Derham Hall end zone, but was batted away by a Raiders’ defender.
“That one hurt,” Green said. “I feel like we had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t convert on – that’s the reason for the outcome of the game. We had a lot of mental errors that we need to fix in practice. We had a lot of penalties, missed blocks, offsides, missed throws, missed catches – everyone needs to pick it up.”
Cretin-Derham Hall played without star defensive end Jashon Cornell, who is the No. 1-ranked player in the nation for the Class of 2015. However, the Raiders defense kept the potent East Ridge offense at bay. Into the game, the Raptors (4-1; 4-1 SEC) had averaged 48.5 points per game and a conference-leading 474 yards per contest. But, in the loss, East Ridge had 290 total yards of offense – 192 rushing and 98 passing and scored just seven points.
East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said he couldn’t pinpoint why the Raptors struggled on offense and said he needed to watch the video of the game first.
“We all take a role in it,” Pendino said. “We didn’t do a good enough job coaching. We had too many mistakes on the field – too many penalties. In big games, penalties are going to kill you. We were always behind the chains with penalties. When you play good teams and you do that, you get beat.”
The East Ridge defense held Cretin-Derham Hall in check for the majority of the game, including limiting the Raiders to just 52 total yards in the first half. However, Johnson picked apart the Raptors on the final drive, going 80 yards for the go-ahead score.
Down 7-3 and with 2:34 remaining in the game, Cretin-Derham Hall took over on downs at its own 20-yard line after East Ridge failed to convert on a 4th-and-5 passing play.
On the very first play of the ensuing drive, Johnson hit senior Ben Michaels with a 27-yard pass to move to midfield. On the next play, Johnson connected with senior Michael Rowan for 15 yards and another first down. After a timeout, East Ridge was called for defensive pass interference giving the Raiders a 1st-and-10 at the Raptors’ 23-yard line with 2:10 left on the clock.
A nine-yard completion moved Cretin-Derham Hall to the East Ridge 14-yard line, but on the next play, the Raiders were flagged for a false start. An incomplete pass and a swing pass for no gain put Cretin-Derham Hall’s back against the wall with a 4th-and-6 at the 19. But, that’s when Johnson hit Flood for the game-winning play.
Cretin-Derham Hall had just 179 total yards in the game – 138 yards passing and 41 yards rushing.
“Our defense played tremendous,” Green said. “My hat’s off to them. They kept us in the game and they didn’t have any help from the offense tonight.”
Stepping in for the injured Nick Leach, East Ridge freshman running back Dominik London ran for 103 yards on 19 carries. Leach led the state in rushing before being lost for the season to a knee injury in last week’s win over Park.
Green was 8-for-19 passing for 98 yards. East Ridge senior tight end George Behr led the Raptors in receiving with four catches for 55 yards.
“I feel like we need to work twice as hard to beat teams, because down the road we’re going to play good teams like them and we can’t make the mistakes we did,” Green said.
The only scoring in the first half came from East Ridge.
On their third possession of the game, the Raptors compiled a 5 minute, 43 second drive that started at their own 20-yard-line and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Austin Kamrath.
Facing a 3rd-and-12 from its own 46-yard line, East Ridge strung together four straight first down plays to move to the Raiders’ 1-yard line. On 3rd-and-12, Green hit Behr with a 13-yard laser to keep the drive alive. London then peeled off back-to-back runs of 13 yards and 10 yards, before Green hit sophomore receiver Kjetil Cline with a 13-yard pass to the Raiders’ 1-yard line, setting up Kamrath’s touchdown plunge.
In the second half, Cretin-Derham Hall senior kicker Sam Clark kicked a 42-yard field goal with 9:50 remaining in the third quarter to make it a 7-3 game.
The Raptors looked to make it 14-3 with the ensuing possession.
Starting at its own 36-yard line, East Ridge efficiently moved the ball down to the Raiders’ 14-yard line, where Green connected on a 12-yard pass to Kamrath before he was knocked out of bounds at the 2-yard line. But, a spot-of-the foul holding call on East Ridge moved the Raptors back to the Cretin-Derham Hall 32-yard line. So, instead of 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line, it was 2nd-and-21 from the 32. A sack of Green and two incomplete passes gave the ball back to the Raiders.
East Ridge turned the ball over on downs three times in the second half – on the Raiders’ 41-yard line, the 35-yard line and the 20-yard line.
The last one was costly.
East Ridge had the ball with a 7-3 lead with 5:36 remaining in the game. A big play on a reverse by Kjetil Cline gained 47 yards and moved the Raptors to the Cretin-Derham Hall 38, six more plays moved East Ridge down to the 20-yard line, but that’s where the Raptors’ offense stalled.
On 4th-and-5 a Green pass fell incomplete, giving the Raiders the ball and one last shot.
“We get the first down there, we win the game, the game is over,” Pendino said. “We didn’t get the first down. The play call we ran was probably a bad call by me.”
Next, East Ridge travels to Forest Lake on Friday, Oct. 4. The Raptors then welcome Stillwater to East Ridge High School on Friday, Oct. 11, before finishing the regular season at Hastings on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
“The good thing about this is we get to play again next week,” Pendino said. “We’ll get started there and go from there. I think we’ll be OK.”