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Frantic fourth quarter dooms Woodbury at White Bear Lake

Woodbury's Connor McKeen reacts Friday after an incomplete pass against White Bear Lake. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 2
Royals quarterback Sawyer Moon rolls out to pass Friday in Woodbury's losing effort against White Bear Lake. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 2

Call them the heart attack kids.

One week after coming out on top of a nail biter, the Royals once again strung out the final outcome until the closing seconds - this time in a road game against White Bear Lake. Woodbury wasn't as fortunate Friday, however, and ended up on the losing end of a 24-21 Suburban East Conference matchup that included a wild fourth quarter where both teams scored on consecutive kickoff returns.

Royals coach Andy Hill said if it wasn't for a few costly mistakes, his team would - and should - have put a notch in the win column.

"We dominated the game and lost," a still seething Hill told players after the game.

Woodbury, which had been locked in a tie with White Bear Lake heading into the game, dropped to 3-2 on the season (3-2 SEC). Meanwhile, the Bears improved to 4-1 for the year and in conference play, a record that ties them with Mounds View and leaves them one game back of unbeaten Cretin-Derham Hall.

The game kicked off without two of Woodbury's top players: Junius Wilson and Cam Maslonka. Hill said that barring a favorable second opinion, all indications are that Wilson - the Royals' bruising senior running back who piled up yards until a Week 3 knee injury at Park - will be done for the season.

It's possible Maslonka, a top defender for the Royals, could return late in the season after sustaining a shoulder injury last week against East Ridge. Hill said Maslonka looks to begin rehabbing the injury in two weeks.

Hill acknowledged the impact of the injuries but said the team can't look back.

"My best offensive and best defensive players?" Hill said. "It could have an impact, but we are a no-excuses team."

Maslonka and Wilson stood side-by-side on the White Bear Lake sidelines Friday night, where they attempted to rally on their teammates throughout the game.

The Royals entered the fourth quarter hanging on to a 7-6 lead. That's when the game kicked into high gear.

Woodbury worked its way upfield on a scoring drive led by junior quarterback Sawyer Moon. He found receiver Jordan Voit in the end zone on a first-and-goal play, where field position was aided by a White Bear Lake personal foul penalty.

Up 14-6, the Royals kicked off. Seconds later, the game was 14-12 after the Bears' Nick Truen returned the kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. A successful White Bear two-point conversion brought the game to a tie.

For a few seconds, anyway.

That was until Woodbury's Quran Al-Hameed returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards all the way for a touchdown of his own.

The Royals led 21-14, but the Bears found paydirt on a Truen rushing touchdown. A point-after try tied the game at 21.

Behind a rabid homecoming crowd, White Bear Lake seized the momentum, but turned over the ball on an interception, opening the door for Woodbury.

But on their first possession, the Royals gave the ball right back to the Bears on a Moon passing play with 51 seconds remaining in the game.

White Bear Lake booted in the game-winning field goal from the Royals' 8 yard line, sealing the game at 24-21.

"We let them off the hook," Hill said.

The Royals look for a return to the win column next week in a home game against Roseville.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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