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Woodbury football: Royals come out on top in homecoming nailbiter

Woodbury receiver Ryan Fritze uses a Roseville player to help himself get up after a play in the Royals' 37-21 homecoming game victory. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 4
Senior Connor McKeen breaks away from Roseville players Friday during an interception that sealed the homecoming game for Woodbury. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker3 / 4
Woodbury quarterback looks for a receiver Friday in the Royals 37-21 homecoming win over Roseville. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker4 / 4

Would the 2011-12 Royals have it any way else?

Up 31-24 with less than 20 seconds left in the Royals' homecoming game Friday night, Roseville marched up to the Woodbury 28 yard line threatening to tie. But a pass by the Raiders' backup quarterback was picked off on the final play by Woodbury's Connor McKeen, who raced the ball all the way to the end zone for a touchdown as the buzzer sounded.

The touchdown finished off Roseville 37-24 in a win that improved the Royals' season and Suburban East Conference record to 4-2.

Head coach Andy Hill said the win gives his Royals momentum as they head into next week's game against conference leader Cretin Derham-Hall.

"It'll be a test," he said. "I'd love to come out and punch them in the face."

If the Royals are to do that, they'll likely have to find a way to put opponents away earlier in games. Woodbury came out on top in a double-overtime victory over East Ridge in Week 4 and scrounged a fourth-quarter lead last week against White Bear Lake. Against Roseville, Woodbury built a 31-17 fourth-quarter lead that came within a touchdown amid costly turnovers late in the game.

Hill admitted that the last-minute drama has become "annoying."

"That many mistakes next week, and we're going to get killed," he said.

Friday's game saw the continued emergence of junior running back Quran Al-Hameed, who had been handling carries behind senior rusher Joe Wood while Woodbury looks to fill the void left after senior tailback was sidelined with a likely season-ending injury. But against Roseville, Al-Hameed saw the lion's share of carries and scored three touchdowns.

Hill said he turned to Al-Hameed against Roseville as it became apparent he had the hot hand.

"He started having a good game," he said.

Hill also praised junior quarterback Sawyer Moon, who battled two quarters facing a stiff fall wind that whipped through Royals Stadium. Though Moon threw two interceptions in the game, Hill said he continues to see improvement and poise in his quarterback.

"He's going to be one of the great ones," he said.

See Wednesday's print edition for the complete story on the homecoming game, including stats.

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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