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On to Minnetonka: Irish football cruises past East Ridge

Sophomore Nathan Whiting was a weapon for the Irish in the snowy and blustery weather as he made four extra-points and two field goals in Rosemount's 34-6 victory over East Ridge. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Junior quarterback Max Carter scrambles and attempts to split to Raptor defenders during the 34-6 win for the Irish. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Rosemount Irish football team cruised past the East Ridge Raptors in their opening section playoff game at Irish Stadium Friday night, Oct. 27. The Irish dominated the Raptors 34-6 in a game that seemed over at halftime. Rosemount forced four turnovers, ran the ball very well, had big plays and even scored on defense in a well-rounded effort. The Irish now move on to play Minnetonka next Friday, Nov. 3, at Minnetonka. The Skippers, who are the second seed in section 6-6A, finished the regular season ranked second in the StarTribune’s Metro Rankings.

The East Ridge Raptors and Rosemount Irish started their game off slowly on Friday, Oct. 27, at Irish Stadium in Rosemount. Playing in the cold, wet, mud and whipping snow, it took a while for both teams to warm up.

The Irish started with the ball and drove down to the East Ridge 13 yard-line before turning it over on downs. However, the Raptors were unable to mount a drive and were forced to punt. The snap went over the punter’s head and he barely got the kick off, resulting in a short kick and Rosemount taking over at the East Ridge 45. Rosemount took advantage when junior quarterback Max Carter completed a 40-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Mann down to the Raptor’s 3-yard line. Junior running back Garrison Green then scored from 3 yards out and the Irish went ahead 7-0 with a minute and 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

After that first score, things got out of hand for East Ridge. The Raptors fumbled during the kickoff return following Rosemount’s score and the Irish recovered at the East Ridge 48. The Irish led 7-0 and were driving at the end of the first quarter.

The Rosemount running game started to gain momentum but the Raptor’s defense managed to get a stop after the turnover. However, the Irish had a weapon of their own in sophomore kicker Nathan Whiting. Whiting made a 27-yard field goal with 10:47 left in the first half to give the Irish a 10-0 lead.

The next drive East Ridge went three-and-out and between kicking into the wind, a popped-up punt and a bad bounce, the Raptor’s punt netted zero yards and the Irish started at the East Ridge 15 yard-line. Rosemount quickly scored on a 9-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marvin Walker to lead 17-0 with 7:37 left in the second quarter.

East Ridge then started at their own 10-yard line and senior quarterback Riley Tuckner attempted a screen pass or quick throw to the outside that was intercepted by senior defensive lineman Sam Willmott of the Irish. Willmott caught the ball just a few yards from the endzone and returned it for the touchdown. This made it 24-0 Rosemount with still over six minutes left in the first half.

East Ridge managed to get on the scoreboard toward the end of the first half. After senior fullback Jaron Pittman busted a long yard deep into Irish territory, Tuckner completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Pittman. The 2-point conversion failed and it was 24-6 Rosemount at the end of the first half.

The second half saw Rosemount score twice more in the third quarter to help seal their victory. At the start of the third quarter, Willmott intercepted Tuckner again on a near identical play, and returned it deep into East Ridge territory. Whiting made his second field goal of the game, this time from 23 yards out, for a 27-6 Irish lead with 6:48 left in the third quarter.

The very next possession, the Rosemount defense forced another fumble and recovered it at the Raptor’s 37. Carter then completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Andrew Reuter to seal the game at 34-6 with 2:51 left in the third. Reserves started to trickle in for the Irish and East Ridge started to get some offense moving, but neither team scored again and 34-6 was the final.

Head coach Jeff Erdmann said it was a great overall win for his team, encompassing offense, defense and special teams.

“We did not have turnovers and we were able run the ball enough and be consistent with it,” he said. “The turnovers obviously helped us, put us in short fields and we converted, we got two field goals out of those.”

Erdmann praised his sophomore kicker, Nathan Whiting, and how important it is that the Irish have him as an option.

“He’s been solid,” Erdmann explained. “In the pros and college, they count on those field goals but in high school you can’t. He’s worked hard in the off-season and he’s gotten himself to where he is a very consistent kicker.”

He finished by saying that it will take a game like against East Ridge to beat Minnetonka.

“Oh they’re a good football team, there’s a reason they’re ranked second,” Erdmann said. “We’ve watched them on film a couple times and they’re big, they’re athletic, they execute very well and they’re very well coached. We need to play a really good football game. We won the turnovers (tonight) four-zip and we need something like that next week against them (Minnetonka).”

Rosemount ran the ball well and were effective passing. Carter was 4-of-9 for 79 yards and a touchdown in the bad weather, while the Irish ran 46 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns. The leading rusher for the Irish Green, who had 23 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. Walker added 10 carries for 26 yards and a score. Mann caught one pass for 40 yards while Reuter added three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Willmott had two interceptions and the Irish defense added two more forced fumbles and recoveries. Whiting was perfect with four extra-points and two field goals made.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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