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Class 6A state football: North sacks Irish in semifinals

The Irish football team meets on the field after Thursday's 28-7 loss to Lakeville North in the Class 6A state semifinals at the Metrodome.

Rosemount's hopes of a third straight upset of a top-five ranked team were dashed by Lakeville North's relentless, swarming defense in Thursday night's Class 6A state semifinals at the Metrodome.

The fourth-ranked Panthers allowed 68 yards and four first downs on the Irish's opening drive of the game before holding them to two first downs, 35 yards and no points over the final 3 1/2 quarters as they advanced to the Prep Bowl XXXI championship game with a 28-7 victory.

The Irish suffered their last loss to the Panthers 35-0 in a late-season South Suburban Conference game, but had since knocked off Lakeville South, No. 3 Stillwater and No. 1 Edina to advance to their fourth state semifinal game in seven years. Head coach Jeff Erdmann's team closed out the season with a record of 7-5.

Despite the offensive troubles, Rosemount stayed within a touchdown until the early fourth quarter. North took a 14-7 lead on a 10-yard touchdown return of a Jackson Erdmann fumble with 2:59 remaining in the second quarter, and then the teams traded nine scoreless drives before Rosemount's sixth punt of the contest set up the Panthers at their own 47-yard line with 58 seconds left in the third. Quarterback Zach Creighton passed for a pair of first downs and scrambled for another before he found Brandon Morgan for a wobbly 33-yard touchdown toss with 10:10 to go.

Trailing by two scores, the Irish tried unsuccessfully to open their offense up in the fourth quarter. North continued to stuff the run and Erdmann couldn't get enough time to throw the ball down the field. Midway through the fourth he completed a 15-yard slant to Ali Al-Khatib for Rosemount's lone first down of the second half, but after three straight failed passes and punt No. 8 the Panthers broke the game open with a 53-yard breakaway touchdown run by Jamiah Newell.

Newell also opened the scoring for North with a one-yard touchdown that capped a six-play, 45-yard drive with 7:16 left in the second quarter. Newell finished with 103 yards and Creighton added 91 as the Panthers racked up 181 to Rosemount's 20.

The Irish dodged several bullets after that as two Panther touchdowns were taken off the board. Offsetting penalties waved off a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown, and then a holding call erased a 21-yard scoring scramble by Creighton.

Things really looked to be going Rosemount's way when North missed its subsequent 32-yard field goal attempt, but on the next play from scrimmage Erdmann was hit as he dropped back and his fumble was returned 10 yards for the go-ahead score.

The Irish had their best chance to re-tie the score early in the third quarter. They took over at the North 23-yard line after Brian Rogers recovered a fumble on a punt return, but the offense moved just five yards on three plays before Erdmann was sacked on fourth and 5.

Erdmann finished 14 of 22 through the air for 83 yards. Six of those passes went to Dimitri Williams for 32 yards and Sean Kalinowski added 33 yards on five receptions.

Williams also ran eight times for a team-best 41 yards. His 26-yard tote and four completions to Kalinowski set up Al-Khatib's one-yard touchdown run on the opening drive.

Andrew Dawson led the Rosemount defense with eight tackles. Nate Sackett added seven tackles and two quarterback sacks and Kwame Owusu had six tackles. As a unit, the Irish held North to 21 points and 329 yards, 84 yards below their season average.