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Football: Defense shines, offense rallies at Prior Lake

The defense of seventh-ranked (Class 5A) Rosemount may have been overshadowed during the first two weeks of the season as the offense put up 66 points in two games the team won going away.

There was no overlooking the Irish defense Friday night at Prior Lake. The Lakers held the Rosemount offense scoreless over the first three quarters, but it was the Irish defense that came up big in the second half, holding the Lakers scoreless as the defending South Suburban Conference champions rallied for a 13-6 victory.

Prior Lake, coming off a 43-point outburst against Bloomington Jefferson, managed just 150 total yards of offense, including just 39 on 26 rushing attempts.

"They had a nice ball club. Our defense played wonderful," Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann said. "Our defensive staff had a very good scheme for them. They run a bunch of running plays from the same package and we took away all of them. We executed well."

The Irish (3-0) struggled to move the ball in the first half and Prior Lake led throughout the second quarter courtesy of a two-yard touchdown by Jake Deavers. A missed extra point left the score 6-0 at the break.

"It was a combination of things. We just couldn't sustain drives. We had pretty horrible field position, so we had to be pretty conservative with our play calling. That combination didn't allow us to get any kind of flow," Erdmann said. "In the second half we made some adjustments and good things happened after that. We changed some blocking schemes in our run package and focused our passing game to a different area of the field."

The first of two long touchdown drives started late in the third quarter. Quarterback Nate LeMoine, who finished just 6 of 15 through the air for 63 yards, made a couple of big completions that set up his first 16-yard touchdown run with 11:13 left in the fourth. The ensuing extra point sailed wide, leaving the score tied at 6-6.

The teams then traded punts and the Rosemount got the ball back just shy of midfield midway through the fourth. The Irish eventually faced a third and short, and LeMoine broke free for another 16-yard score to give the visitors the lead for keeps.

LeMoine finished with 73 yards on the ground. Andy Gustafson led a 176-yard rushing attack with 94 yards on 26 carries.

The Irish are back in action tomorrow night against eighth-ranked Lakeville North, which at 3-0 shares the conference lead with Rosemount and Lakeville South. The Panthers have scored a combined 114 points while defeating then eighth-ranked Eastview, Apple Valley and Edina.

"They're going to be a very high-powered offense. They have speed all over the place," Erdmann said. "They're 3-0 and in two of the games they've scored over 40 points. Their defense is very athletic, as well. We're going to have to be very sound with what we're doing. We're two of the teams tied at the top of the conference, so it's a huge game."