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Woodbury football: Raiders elude Royals

Hastings quarterback Brandon McCarthy pulls away from pursuing Woodbury linebacker Stefan Swenson during the Raiders' 37-27 road win over Woodbury. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 2
Woodbury scatback Nick Yan and the Royals take on Cretin-Derham Hall next week in the regular season finale. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 2

A tight game through three quarters was wrestled away from the Royals Friday by Hastings and its one-man wrecking crew in quarterback Brandon McCarthy.

The Royals fell 37-27 to the visiting Raiders, dropping Woodbury’s record to 2-5 (2-5 Suburban East Conference) with one regular season game left on the schedule – a road match-up Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Cretin-Derham Hall.

“It comes down to executing,” Woodbury head coach Andy Hill told his players after the game. “We didn’t.”

Woodbury matched Hastings evenly through two quarters and closed out halftime with a buzzer-beating goal-line touchdown that left the two teams knotted at 20.

But despite halftime adjustments aimed at containing McCarthy, the senior quarterback had his way with the Woodbury defense, beginning with a third-quarter touchdown pass that gave the Raiders a 27-20 lead.

“He’s a very good football player and he runs very hard,” Hill said of McCarthy.

The Hastings quarterback completed nine of 16 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns, but did the bulk of his damage on the ground, where he rushed 24 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Woodbury remained on the offensive and struck back immediately in the third quarter after sophomore quarterback moved the offense down the field with the help of Reid Peters and, later, a clutch fourth-down play.

Senior running back John McNiff took a direct snap on fourth-and-four that connected with fellow senior Landon Crossley down to the Hastings three yard line. Mundahl and Crossley completed the scoring drive on a three-yard touchdown pass – followed by a point-after attempt that tied the score at 27-27.

McCarthy wasn’t done, however. He later converted a critical third-quarter fourth down that led to a 13-yard touchdown pass that helped put Hastings up 34-27 with6:46left in regulation.

“I liked our chances at 34-27,” Hill said.

Ill-timed penalties, however, doomed those chances.

The Royals moved the ball up to their own 42 yard line and were faced with a fourth-and-five situation. Hill put the offense back out on the field, but a false start penalty moved the Royals back five yards. Hill again opted against a punt, but his Royals drew another five yard penalty that set up a fourth-and-15 situation that finally forced Hill to punt.

McCarthy and the Raiders made the Royals pay for the mistakes, driving to the Woodbury seven yard line and kicking in the game-sealing 24-yard field goal.

“Give Hastings credit,” Hill said. “I think Hastings made more plays than we did.”

Mundahl completed 11 of 29 passes for 140 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. McNiff passed for 91 yards on the night and rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Donnell Rodgers led the Woodbury rushing attack with 96 yards on 13 carries and a second-quarter touchdown.

Crossley was Woodury’s leading receiver with 94 yards on three receptions and a touchdown; fellow senior receiver Reid Peters caught four passes for 70 yards.

The Royals will look to finish the regular season on a high note during Wednesday’s road game against Cretin-Derham Hall at the University of St. Thomas.

Section playoffs begin the following week.

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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