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The football season ends for East Ridge

Junior running back Kendall Moore plunges into the line during East Ridge's loss to Rosemount. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Senior quarterback Riley Tuckner rolls out to pass against the Irish. Tuckner threw for 38 yards and a touchdown against a stout Rosemount defense. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The East Ridge Raptors football team had their season end in the cold Friday night, Oct. 27, at the hands of the Rosemount Irish. The Raptors fell on the road 34-6 in the first round of 6A section playoffs after a 3-5 regular season (3-3 in the Metro East sub-district). East Ridge struggled to get anything going offensively against Rosemount (5-3) were plagued by several turnovers that gave the Irish short fields to work with.

The East Ridge Raptors and Rosemount Irish started their game off slowly on Friday, Oct. 27, at Irish Stadium in Rosemount. Playing in the cold, wet, mud and whipping snow, it took a while for both teams to warm up.

The Irish started with the ball and drove down to the East Ridge 13 yard-line before turning it over on downs. However, the Raptors were unable to mount a drive and were forced to punt. The snap went over the punter’s head and he barely got the kick off, resulting in a short kick and Rosemount taking over at the East Ridge 45. Rosemount took advantage when junior quarterback Max Carter completed a 41-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Jonathan Mann down to the Raptor’s 3-yard line. Junior running back Garrison Green then scored from 3 yards out and the Irish went ahead 7-0 with a minute and 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

After that first score, things got out of hand for East Ridge. The Raptors fumbled during the kickoff return following Rosemount’s score and the Irish recovered at the East Ridge 48. The Irish led 7-0 and were driving at the end of the first quarter.

The Rosemount running game started to gain momentum but the Raptor’s defense managed to get a stop after the turnover. However, the Irish had a weapon of their own in sophomore kicker Nathan Whiting. Whiting made a 27-yard field goal with 10:47 left in the first half to give the Irish a 10-0 lead.

The next drive East Ridge went three-and-out and between kicking into the wind, a popped-up punt and a bad bounce, the Raptor’s punt netted zero yards and the Irish started at the East Ridge 15 yard-line. Rosemount quickly scored on a 9-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marvin Walker to lead 17-0 with 7:37 left in the second quarter.

East Ridge then started at their own 10-yard line and senior quarterback Riley Tuckner attempted a screen pass or quick throw to the outside that was intercepted by senior defensive lineman Sam Willmott of the Irish. Willmott caught the ball just a few yards from the endzone and returned it for the touchdown. This made it 24-0 Rosemount with still over six minutes left in the first half.

East Ridge managed to get on the scoreboard toward the end of the first half. After senior fullback Jaron Pittman busted a long yard deep into Irish territory, Tuckner completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Pittman. The 2-point conversion failed and it was 24-6 Rosemount at the end of the first half.

The second half saw Rosemount score twice more in the third quarter to help seal their victory. At the start of the third quarter, Willmott intercepted Tuckner again on a near identical play, and returned it deep into East Ridge territory. Whiting made his second field goal of the game, this time from 23 yards out, for a 27-6 Irish lead with 6:48 left in the third quarter.

The very next possession, the Rosemount defense forced another fumble and recovered it at the Raptor’s 37. Carter then completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Andrew Reuter to seal the game at 34-6 with 2:51 left in the third. Reserves started to trickle in for the Irish and East Ridge started to get some offense moving, but neither team scored again and 34-6 was the final.

After the game, head coach Dan Fritze said he was grateful for the role his seniors played this season.

“This group of seniors, if you had seen them as freshman, you would have thought they were just a bunch of goofballs,” he said. “We don’t judge our kids based on their wins, we judge them on how they grow and how they lead. These seniors really have brought a family atmosphere, and a never quit attitude, to our team, and that’s been here all year no matter what was going on in the game.”

East Ridge mustered just 136 total yards with one score and four turnovers. Tuckner completed five passes on 15 attempts for 38 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Pittman was a bright spot for the Raptors, who ran for 90 yards on 11 carries and also caught three passes for 31 yards and touchdown. He was East Ridge’s leading rusher and receiver.

Senior Austin Schintz was 1-for-4 passing for 7 yards and sophomore Kendall Moore ran the ball 11 times for 12 yards.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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