East Ridge was all but visible. The Raptors trailed 14-7 with less than three minutes to play, and rival Woodbury was both clocking in and moving the ball down the field, well into the East Ridge area.
East Ridge’s hopes were slim, at best. Then, its defense made a play.
The Raptors forced a fumble, and East Ridge linebacker Braden McDougall scooped it. His thoughts at the time were quite simple: “Pick him up and run as fast as you can.”
He returned the ball to the Royals’ 3-yard line. Jacob Schroeder scored quickly on the next snap at East Ridge and reduced the Raptors’ deficit to 14-13.
Then came more chaos.
A kick was missed due to a poor snap and a hold on the ensuing extra point attempt. Woodbury celebrated.
But a flag was dropped on the field. is kicking.
The ball went halfway to the target, with East Ridge choosing to go for two. Again, the Raptors went to Schroeder, who saw that they would be stopped short of the goal line before a final extension of the ball, allowing them to top East Ridge 15-14 with 2 minutes, 17 seconds in the final field. will be brought in. .
“Spinned just a little bit, turned around, worked hard,” Schroeder said. “this much only.”
Woodbury still had one final campaign to win the game, and advanced into the East Ridge area. But the Raptors sealed the Raptors’ impossible 15-14 road win by bringing Woodbury down a yard short of fourth at the East Ridge 31-yard line.
East Ridge coach Dan Fritz said: “It’s great to see our kids not leave now.” “We always tell them, whatever the score, it’s just a percentage probability of where you are at that point in time. And if you just keep going, it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, but to move on.” Keep fighting to get yourself. We want to teach this to our kids for their lives. And watching our kids do it even if we don’t win, that’s the biggest thing as a coach. … It’s great that our kids didn’t quit.”
Fritz has been a part of many wild finishes during his time at the East Ridge. The Raptors featured one thriller after another in the run up to the Prep Bowl in 2015, but Friday’s game had it all. A third quarter was played out in a downpour that made both offenses controversial for the general intensity of the rivalry.
“Probably No. 1. In terms of madness, I didn’t look like it very much,” Fritz said. “I don’t remember a crazy game, especially when it’s your opponent.”
In the middle of that third quarter, East Ridge hit a big passing play from Tanner Zolnoski to Demir Flamino when the Royals’ defensive back slipped. The Flamino went for 58 yards before being dragged to the Woodbury 7-yard-line by Scott Hanson.
Two plays later, Hanson intercepted an East Ridge pass in the end zone to keep the score at 7-7.
Later in the third, Hanson fielded an East Ridge punt and returned it deep into Raptors territory, setting up a final Woodbury score – a 24-yard scoring strike from George Bejelos to Joy Gerlach on 4 and 11.
East Ridge (3-2) again took a chance to tie the game inside the Woodbury 10-yard line in the fourth quarter – again, as a result of a long reception from the Flamino, which ended with three catches for 121 yards. But again the Raptors went blank, rolling the ball down the aisle.
It appeared that East Ridge was likely out, until late game chaos came to the fore.
East Ridge scored late in the first quarter on a 37-yard run from Toby Aene on Friday. But Woodbury (4-1) responded late in the first half when Bjelos hit Joe Mahoney for a 29-yard passing touchdown with just 30 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Bjellos was excellent, as he has been for the Royals all season long. He completed 21 of 37 pass attempts for 232 yards and a pair score. Overall, the Royals did well in their first loss of the season.
“Dominate the game,” said Woodbury coach Andy Hill. “Didn’t execute three plays.”
East Ridge’s third win in a row after a 0-2 start in the season. Asked whether a win like Friday could be a turning point in a season, Fritz said he hopes it will lead to a great practice on Monday. Maybe that can set the tone for the move.
But those are thoughts for another day. After the game, East Ridge players were experiencing much of what they had just experienced.
“It means a lot to everyone. This is the biggest game of the year for us,” McDougall said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about it for as long as I can remember.”
Woodbury honored her latest activities Hall of Fame – Crystal Kalman (2005 graduate), Kylie Kallman (2007) and Cassie Kallman (2010) – at halftime. All three were standout football players, among other athletic achievements.