Football: Irish blanked at South
The best way to slow down the high-octane Lakeville South offense, Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann figured, was to keep it off the field.
The Irish did just that over the first half of their South Suburban road game Friday night in Lakeville. The undefeated and fourth-ranked Cougars settled for a short field goal on their first possession, and then managed just two punts and a turnover on downs over their next three possessions. Rosemount ate up over nine minutes of clock with a 14-play drive in the second quarter, but failed to put any points on the board as the score remained 3-0 heading into the break.
The field position battle turned in favor of the Cougars when Rosemount fumbled the ball at the 32-yard line on the second play of the second half. The home team took advantage of the short field with the first of two third-quarter touchdowns for University of Minnesota recruit Mitchell Leidner and marched to a 17-0 victory.
"We had 27 minutes of possession, so we did limit them. There were 114 plays in the game and we usually have 150, so that was one of the positives," Erdmann said. "Other than not scoring when we got inside the 10, we had a very good first half. We ate the clock and kept the ball out of their hands."
The fumble just after halftime quickly spoiled the Irish's game of keep-away. South converted on a fourth and one play to keep its drive alive, then Leidner completed a short pass on third and 4 to move the ball inside the five. Two plays later, Leidner plunged in from one yard out to make it 10-0.
Rosemount went three and out on its next possession, setting up a six-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that culminated in a three-yard scoring pass from Leidner to Devon Bzoskie.
Leidner finished 16 of 26 for 195 yards. He helped cover for a ground game that managed just 22 yards on 21 carries against the strong Rosemount defensive front.
"Defensively, we played well. They had some fast guys, a big Division I quarterback, all that stuff, and we held them pretty well," Erdmann said. "The defensive coaches did a great job coming up with a good game plan and we executed it pretty well."
The Irish out-gained Lakeville South 239-217 and had three more first downs. Their eight drives resulted in five punts, two turnovers on downs, one lost fumble and an interception.
Running back Andy Gustafson accounted for 116 of the team's 151 rushing yards on 25 carries. Quarterback Nate LeMoine completed 7 of17 passes for 88 yards and rushed for 32 yards. Sean Kalinowski caught a team-high four passes for 71 yards.
The Irish (3-2) will try to put an end to their two-game losing streak when they host Apple Valley (0-5) for homecoming tomorrow night at Irish Stadium.
"They're struggling. They played their best game of the season Friday night against Eastview (lost 17-0)," Erdmann said. "They're pretty fast, but they're not that big of a team. Offensively, they're struggling to find if they're a throwing team or a running team. At this point we've got to get back to finishing drives and not turning the ball over. It doesn't matter who you're playing if you don't do those things."