Totino-Grace rallies to edge Cretin-Derham Hall

By Matthew Davis
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It took three quarters for Totino-Grace’s offense to rev up, but the defending Class 6A state champion Eagles took control late once it did for a 13-12 comeback win over Cretin-Derham Hall.

Sam Hanson scored a 32-yard touchdown for Totino-Grace’s rally to edge Cretin-Derham Hall 13-12 Aug. 31. (Photo by Matt Richard)

“We just had to figure out our schemes,” said Eagles senior corner back and wide receiver Ryan Suggs. “They were running the ball really good on us.”

In the first-ever meeting between the two football powerhouses Aug. 31 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, the Raiders (0-1) had the early edge with their running attack. The Raiders took the opening kickoff and marched 17 plays for 75 yards to take a 3-0 lead on a 30-yard field goal by junior kicker Louie Rottjakokb.

Totino-Grace (1-0) moved the chains once on its first drive and nearly lost the ball on one run. Suggs picked off deep pass by the Raiders to end the drive. The Eagles got some momentum with a 25-yard pass from senior quarterback Peyton Schuler to Suggs, but the drive stalled at midfield.

Cretin-Derham Hall attacked again with the run but stalled in Eagles territory, but the Raiders got a second chance off an Eagles offensive fumble. It set up a 24-yard touchdown pass by junior quarterback Danny Callahn to junior wide receiver Peter Uboibok with 11 seconds left for a 10-0 lead at the half.

Totino-Grace opened the second half with the ball but couldn’t get past midfield before punting.

Cretin-Derham Hall marched the ball into the red zone, but the Eagles thwarted a couple passes into the end zone to keep the score at 10-0. The Eagles then pressured the Raiders on a missed field goal attempt.

“We really just pulled together as a team; played harder and blocked harder,” Eagles junior fullback and defensive end Charles Kamara said.

Totino-Grace got its offense going despite a penalty pushed them back 10 yards. Schuler found senior tight end Nate Schutz for a 16-yard play to secure a first down. Schuler went 8-13 passing with 89 yards, and Schutz led in receptions with two for 32 yards.

“We protected a little bit better,” Eagles coach Jeff Ferguson said.

Ryan Suggs of Totino-Grace picks off a pass in the end zone as Eagles teammate Alex Bergmann helps on the double team against Cretin-Derham Hall. (Photo by Matt Richard)It set up a 32-yard TD run by senior running back Sam Hanson, who had 69 yards on 15 carries, to pull the Eagles within four, 10-6. After a false start penalty on the extra point, the Eagles’ kick got blocked by the Raiders.

Totino-Grace then stuffed Cretin-Derham Hall and reclaimed the ball at the Raiders 40-yard line on a punt. A dead-ball foul by the Raiders following the first play of the Eagles’ drive spotted the ball at 26-yard line.

Schuler set up the Eagles inside the 10 on a 15-yard pass to Schutz. Senior fullback Kameron White punched in the ball from two yards out on third-and-goal to take a 13-10 lead. He had 22 yards on three carries for the game.

Cretin-Derham Hall returned to its early form running ball with a 15-yard and 18-yard sweeps by sophomore running back Tony Underwood. The Raiders got it down to the Eagles 15-yard line but couldn’t convert on fourth down.

“We have to clean that up,” Ferguson said of the run yardage surrendered.

Totino-Grace couldn’t get a first down on the following drive but ran in the back of the end zone to run out the clock and win 13-12. The Eagles extended their winning streak to 14 games overall and their regular season streak to 10.

“This team needs some confidence,” Ferguson said. “They’re young and inexperienced. I think that this is a really good start for them. It’s something we can build on.”

Totino-Grace will visit Centennial (1-0) Friday at 7 p.m.

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