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Football: Rout sets stage for finale

Rosemount wide receiver Tray Ashby-Phan follows his block after catching a pass Friday.

Rosemount and Lakeville North both did their part to set the stage for Wednesday night’s winner-take-all regular season finale.

The high-powered Irish, ranked fifth in Class 6A, remained unbeaten in the South Suburban Conference by scoring 61 points for the second time this year at Bloomington Stadium in a 61-14 rout of Jefferson. Meanwhile, just across the river in Eagan, seventh-ranked Lakeville North was keeping pace in the standings with its fourth shutout of the season, a 24-0 blanking of the Wildcats.

At 6-1, North trailed Rosemount by one-half game heading into Wednesday night’s showdown at Irish Stadium. The last time the two teams played was less than 11 months ago when the Panthers defeated the Irish 28-7 in the 6A state semifinals at the Metrodome.

Something will have to give in a matchup between the top offense and the top defense in the South Suburban. The Irish are averaging 38 points per game, while the Panthers are allowing just 5.3 per contest.

The Irish helped that average Friday night, rolling up 476 total yards and building a 43-0 lead by halftime against Jefferson. Tailback Dimitri Williams scored the first three touchdowns, all in the first quarter, on a 41-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Erdmann and runs of 12 and four yards, respectively.

The next five Irish touchdowns came from five different players. Erdmann found Tyler Hartigan for an 18-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to make it 29-0, and shortly after Gabe Ehlers recovered a Tyrek Cross fumble in the end zone to put the Irish up 36-0. Cross got a score of his own before the break, rushing across the goal line from nine yards out to push the advantage to 43-0 at the half.

After Jefferson got on the board with a touchdown, Brandon Ekeren booted a 32-yard field goal to make it 46-7. In the fourth quarter, Lowell Green tacked on a five-yard rushing touchdown and Eli Roble snagged a 46-yard scoring strike from Ethan Link.

Ekeren’s extra point made it 61-7 with 4:17 to go.

Erdmann finished 9 of 15 through the air for 181 yards and a pair of scores. Hartigan caught three passes for 46 yards, Tray Ashby-Phan snagged two for 57 and Williams two for 49.

Cross rushed for a team-high 72 yards, Green had 46 and Williams 44.

The Irish defense held Jefferson to 146 total yards and seven first downs while forcing eight punts. John Birkholz hauled in an interception for the game’s lone turnover.