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Woodbury football: Royals' upset bid of Cretin-Derham Hall falls short

Royals senior running back John McNiff ran for a 47-yard touchdown against the Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders on Tuesday. The Royals tallied four first half scores, but they came up short in the end, 35-23, with a scoreless second half. (Bulletin photo by Matthew Davis)

Following a second-half letdown in a 35-23 loss to Cretin-Derham Hall, the Woodbury Royals left the field with hopes on a new season coming up.

“We’re a dangerous team if we play together,” Royals senior running back Stefan Swenson said.

The Royals played well together in the first half with three touchdown drives and a 20-14 lead going into final three minutes of the half.  CDH Raiders junior quarterback Maxwell Johnson put his team back on top with a 12-yard TD pass play for a 21-20 lead, but the Royals responded as senior kicker Ryan Garbe kicked a 27-yard field to end the half, 23-21.

“We made some real big plays on third down early in the game, but we had a little more trouble in the second half,” Royals coach Andrew Hill said.

The second half came unkindly for the Royals as they went scoreless in the half.  Penalties, turnovers and close calls sunk their upset bid.

“I feel like they just started to pick up our offense,” Swenson said.  “The stuff that was working in the first half just wasn’t working in the second half.”

On the other hand, the Royals defense had come up big early in the second half with forcing the Raiders into a three-and-out on the opening drive.  On the following Raiders drive, the Royals came up with a big fumble recovery near midfield.

“It was exhilarating,” Swenson said.

After the Royals failed to capitalize on the turnover, the Raiders made them pay on their next possession when Johnson put the Raiders up to stay on a seven-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. 

“They found a crack and splitted it,” Hill said.

Brian Norlander of the Royals had made a big open field tackle on a 40-yard pass play earlier in that drive, but the Raiders still managed to march the ball the rest of the way for a score afterward.

“It was disappointing to have them score,” Swenson said.

Turnovers then plagued the Royals as Mundahl threw two interceptions, including one inside the Raiders 5-yard line.  Again, the Raiders capitalized with senior running back Blake Banham scampering 23 yards for the TD.

The Royals did had their opportunities, and they showed the ability at times to make the most of them.  Mundahl connected on two TD passes in the first half that kept the Royals on pace with the Raiders.  He found senior wide receiver Ben Rizzard for seven yards on their first score for the 7-7 tie.  Mundahl then connected with senior receiver Nick Yan on a 38-yard TD to pull the team within a point, 14-13.

The Royals scored again on a big play less than a minute later on a 47-yard run by senior running back John Mcniff.  Senior kicker Ryan Garbe capped the half on the final second with the 27-yard field goal.

“I think we played well both halves,” Hill said.  “We just didn’t finish drives with points in the second half.”

The Royals dropped to 2-6 overall and in the Suburban East Conference.  They will learn of their first Section 4 6A Tournament opponent later in the week.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, and that’s a scary thing for other teams,” Swenson said.

-Matthew Davis