Green is golden: Freshman QB, Raptors take down Woodbury 28-26In front of roughly 6,000 people on Friday night at East Ridge High School, freshman quarterback Seth Green led the Raptors to a 28-26 win over rival Woodbury helping East Ridge raise the Golden Griffin trophy on Homecoming.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
East Ridge freshman quarterback Seth Green used the season’s biggest stage for his breakout performance.
In front of roughly 6,000 people on Friday night at East Ridge High School, Green led the Raptors to a 28-26 win over rival Woodbury helping the Raptors raise the Golden Griffin trophy on East Ridge’s Homecoming.
“This is one of the best rivalries in Minnesota right here,” Green said. “It pumped me up, especially the whole week leading up to it. It gave us that much more to work toward during the week. I’m just glad we pulled it out and accomplished what we were working for.”
Green, a transfer from Hill-Murray, totaled 211 yards passing and two touchdowns in his first game against Woodbury.
“They did a really good job,” Woodbury head coach Andy Hill said. “They took advantage of opportunities when we gave them to them and we gave them too many. When you lose a game by two points, you look for mistakes and we don’t have to look too far. They’re all around us.”
East Ridge had a few mistakes of its own. Green could’ve easily thrown for four touchdowns if not for two miscues by East Ridge junior wide receiver Xavier Cole that would have been sure touchdowns. Cole had a wide-open drop on a deep slant pass in the first quarter and fumbled while running free into the end zone in the second quarter. Green also lost a fumble on the Woodbury 1-yard line in a game that East Ridge head coach Mike Pendino said was much closer in the end than it probably should have been.
“Give all the credit to Woodbury for coming over here and playing the way they did, but if we just hang onto the football it doesn’t have to be this close,” Pendino said. “Those things happen in games, but our kids didn’t fold. They just kept playing. Give credit to the guys in blue, though, because they made it a game.”
Green completed four passes for 25 yards or more in the win. He credited his offensive line for allowing him time to make the throws.
“That just comes from practice and my line giving me time,” Green said. “I don’t think there’s a better line in the state right now.”
East Ridge’s run defense played a big role in the win. The Raptors – which had allowed the second-fewest rushing yards in the Suburban East Conference into the game – limited Woodbury senior running back Quran Al-Hameed to 40 yards on 15 carries. Al-Hameed, who did score the Royals’ final touchdown of the game – a 14-yard scamper, making it 28-26 with 6:34 remaining – to give him 11 on the year, entered the contest leading the SEC in rushing yards with 500 through just three games.
“We knew if we stopped (Al-Hameed), they’d have to pull tricks out of their bag,” East Ridge senior linebacker Chago Huerta said. “They did and we stopped them too. It was our game after that.”
Huerta, a team co-captain who played for Woodbury as a freshman before transferring to East Ridge, had two sacks and recovered a fumble in the win for the Raptors. East Ridge forced two Woodbury fumbles in game.
“This is huge,” Huerta said. “This is the biggest moment of my life. I’m so happy right now. Black swarm.”
Pendino said the defense made just enough plays for East Ridge to win the game.
“That defense will make you pull your hair out sometimes, but they’re coming along,” he said. “Tonight they stopped probably the best running back in the conference. The kids play hard, they go every snap and when we needed a big stop tonight, they made the big stop.”
In the game, with East Ridge leading 21-13 at the half, Woodbury cut its deficit to 21-19 with 25.3 seconds remaining in the quarter when senior quarterback Sawyer Moon hit junior receiver Reid Peters with a 23-yard touchdown pass. However, East Ridge responded with what turned out to be the game-winning score. With the ball at its own 43-yard line with 17.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter, East Ridge put together a five-play drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by junior running back Nick Leach to make it a two-touchdown lead at 28-19 after the extra point by kicker Alec Tostenrud.
The biggest play of the drive was a 26-yard pass from Green to Cole down to the Woodbury 5-yard line, setting up Leach’s score.
“(Green) has a nice touch on his deep ball,” Pendino said of his new starting quarterback. “He’s going to be a nice, nice player. We’re still very young. All but four of these starters are back next year. We’re just very happy right now.”
Leach ran for 104 yards and a touchdown, Cole had a team-best 94 yards receiving and junior Stephen Orehosky scored a rushing touchdown for the Raptors. Moon had a game-high 262 passing yards and three touchdowns to go along with 62 rushing yards in the loss. Junior receiver Reid Peters had five catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns and senior Tucker Benjamin caught 10 passes for 52 yards for Woodbury.
The win by the Raptors evened the head-to-head series between the two Woodbury-based schools to 2-2 in their four meetings since East Ridge opened in 2009.
“Tonight we played to find out who was the champion of Woodbury,” Pendino said. “Right now, we’re the champion of Woodbury.”
See the full story and additional photos in the Sept. 26 issue of the Bulletin