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Football: East Ridge holds off Roseville for a win on homecoming

East Ridge's Kendall Moore looks for a running lane during East Ridge's homecoming game against Roseville on Friday, Sept. 22. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia

A defense’s job is usually to keep its opponent from scoring points.

But East Ridge’s defense did a little bit more in a 17-16 homecoming victory for the Raptors on Friday.

Ryan Kim returned an interception 84 yards to give East Ridge a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter. And after Roseville threatened with a late touchdown, the defense stopped a two-point conversion attempt to lock down the victory.

Kim, a senior cornerback, scored those game-winning points by jumping a short pass near the sideline for the interception.

“I just read the quarterback’s eyes, and I just knew I would make a play on the ball,” he said.

Even more surprising is the fact that just last fall Kim was not playing football. He quit the sport after his seventh-grade year and did not play until joining East Ridge this fall as a senior.

“I just decided not to,” Kim said about his decision to quit football. “I thought it wasn’t for me, but I guess this changes it all. This year.”

East Ridge carried a 10-0 lead into halftime after scoring points with a 32-yard field goal by Jack McKenzie and a 51-yard touchdown reception to Payton Johnson from Riley Tuckner.

The East Ridge offense effectively moved the ball in the first half with the help of a multi-back rushing attack. With running backs TJ Kelly, Emmanuel Okeleye and Jalen Malone all out with injuries, the Raptors relied on Kendall Moore this week for a significant portion of those carries. Moore, who in past years had played running back, had moved to linebacker before this week.

“He’s a natural athlete,” head coach Dan Fritze said.

Roseville scored a late touchdown on a pass from Luke Bouchart to Zachary Andrade to pull the Raiders within one point of the lead. But a holding call pushed Roseville back to the 11-yard line and the two-point conversion attempt was stopped by an East Ridge sack.

The Raptors have seemingly improved every week since a 34-13 loss to Champlin Park in week one. East Ridge picked up road wins against Stillwater 17-14 and White Bear Lake 31-15 before returning for homecoming.

This week, the Raptors were able to hand Roseville its first loss of the season.

With so many new players on offense, Fritze said his team was searching for its identity in the loss to Champlin Park.

Though there is still work to do, that identity has become more clear.

“I think this game can really help us develop into being a solid team, but we’re still not quite there,” Fritze said.