East Ridge football: Mounds View blanks Raptors 17-0
The Raptors ran into a wall Friday night.
Coming off a convincing Week 2 home win over Forest Lake, East Ridge had no answers for a Mounds View defense that smothered its way to a 17-0 win at the Raptor's Nest.
"That's probably the best defensively coached team around," East Ridge coach Mike Pendino said after the game.
The Mustangs' defense blanketed a Raptors rushing attack that couldn't find a rhythm and stifled nearly any semblance of a passing game.
That began with 4:10 left in the first quarter, when East Ridge senior quarterback Brandon Johnson threw an interception that gave Mounds View the ball on the Raptors' 30 yard line. The pick proved costly; the Mustangs converted the turnover into a touchdown off an 11-yard run, giving them a 7-0 lead.
The second quarter saw Mounds View convert a critical third-and-three on a running play that ran up to the Raptors' 19 yard line. East Ridge stuck the subsequent third down, but Mounds View booted in a 30-yard field goal, expanding the lead to 10-0 with 6:38 remaining in the half.
The Raptors came out from halftime looking to solve the suffocating Mounds View defense, but struggled to gain momentum as the Mustangs continued to control time of possession.
"They're a physical, physical group and that's where we've got to get to," Pendino said of the Mounds View defense.
Things looked promising with about 8:00 remaining in the third quarter for East Ridge when senior running back Val Huerta broke a long run. The momentum was short lived, however - a Mounds View defender stripped the ball loose on the play and the Mustangs recovered it on their 35 yard line.
The Raptors' defense stood tall in the third quarter, giving the offense another chance on the ensuing possession. An eight-play drive punctuated by Huerta runs and passing plays sputtered out and eventually led to a turnover on downs.
East Ridge committed its third turnover on a halfback option pass that was picked off by the Mounds View secondary.
The Mustangs plunged their dagger into the Raptors late in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard rushing touchdown and giving them a 17-0 lead that went unanswered in the closing seconds.
"It hurts," Pendino told his team after the game.
He immediately turned his attention to next week's road game against Woodbury, who rolled Friday night in a 49-13 win over Park.
Pendino made no bones about the intensity he expects to see in the upcoming Woodbury game.
"When you're three miles down the road," he said, "it's big."