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East Ridge football: Raptors bend, but don't break No. 4 Mustangs in 10-7 loss

The East Ridge defense held fourth-ranked Mounds View to 10 points on Friday, but the Raptors couldn't come up with the win.1 / 2
East Ridge junior running back Leach had 112 yards rushing in the game to lead the Raptors.2 / 2

East Ridge was nearly golden on Friday night.

The Raptors brought No. 4-ranked Mounds View to the brink, but couldn't push the Mustangs over the ledge.

East Ridge was left thinking what might have been after falling 10-7 to Suburban East Conference -leading Mounds View at Mounds View High School.

"We didn't make enough plays," East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said. "They made plays and we didn't. That's the difference between being ranked fourth and not being ranked."

Neither team scored a touchdown in the second half of the defensive battle.

Mounds View kicker Alec Tolson's 20-yard field goal that gave the Mustangs a 10-7 lead with 6:46 remaining in the fourth quarter turned out to be the difference. Mounds View, fresh off a win over Cretin-Derham Hall, improved to 3-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC with the victory. East Ridge fell to 1-3 overall and 1-3 in the conference.

"I'm proud of the effort," Pendino said. "They did a heck of a job. We just got to keep going at it, because we have a chance to be a pretty good football team. I think we're right there. We showed tonight that we can play with a ranked club, but now we have to win one. We have to find a way."

East Ridge had its chances throughout the game.

Leading 7-0 after a first-quarter touchdown pass of five yards from freshman quarterback Seth Green to senior running back Bayo Idowu, East Ridge was threatening again. A Green 9-yard run set up first-and-goal at the Mounds View 7-yard line midway through the second quarter. But, after three runs gained no ground, East Ridge set up for a 24-yard field goal. However, the snap was fumbled and Mounds View took over at its own 20-yard line. Thirteen plays and 6:17 later, the Mustangs tied the game 7-7 on a 5-yard shovel pass from Mitch Frederickson to Max Knutson on third-and-goal from the five.

In the second half, East Ridge moved the ball down the field on the Mustangs twice, but came away empty handed.

East Ridge started the second half with an 11-play drive that stalled on Mounds View's 20-yard line. The Raptors went for it on fourth-and-5 from the 24 of the Mustangs and Green hit Idowu with a 4-yard pass, but he was spotted down just shy of the first down.

However, a stout defensive effort highlighted by back-to-back sacks by East Ridge senior Chago Huerta forced Mounds View to turn the ball over on downs on the Raptors' 36-yard line.

Three runs by East Ridge junior Nick Leach for a total of 24 yards had the Raptors in Mounds View territory again, but the Mustangs' Riley Kraus intercepted a tipped pass from Green on second-and-3 at their own 32 yard-line. Kraus' pick helped set up a drive the Mustangs' game-winning drive.

Pendino said he was pleased with his defense following the game.

"The defense was flying around running to the football - a little too many guys running free - but that's going to happen with the style we play," he said. "We're always bringing a lot of pressure. Those guys were making things happen."

Pendino said he was also happy with the play of his offensive line, which - at times - imposed its will on a perennially tough Mounds View defense. Leach had 112 yards rushing in the game to lead the Raptors.

"They're all juniors, they're all starting to play with some physicality - they're getting nasty - and they're going to be very good," he said. "We're going to start hanging our hat on those guys."

Next week is the high school sporting event of the fall for nearly everyone with a Woodbury address when East Ridge welcomes rival Woodbury to the Raptors' Nest.

Last year's battle for the Golden Griffin Trophy was a doozy, with Woodbury pulling out a 35-34 double-overtime win - stopping the Raptors on a potential game-winning 2-point conversion. Since East Ridge was erected in 2009, Woodbury holds a 2-1 advantage in the two Woodbury schools' three head-to-head games.

"That's like Army/Navy or Princeton/Rutgers - that's what it's all about," Pendino said. "It's the inter-district, inter-town rivalry. It doesn't get any better than that."