By Matthew Davis
Nothing has come easy for a young defending Class 6A football championship squad in Totino-Grace this season.
“We’ve had three games that have all gone down to the last play,” Eagles coach Jeff Ferguson said.
For the third week in a row, the Eagles (2-1) needed a fourth quarter rally for a shot to win Sept. 15 against Mounds View (0-3). A pair of rushing touchdowns did the trick for the Eagles this time in a 21-17 victory at home.
“There’s things in all these games that have gone badly, but our kids have been unflappable,” Ferguson said.
Trailing 17-7, running back Kameron White scored a TD on his lone carry of the night, a 6-yard run at 9:25 in the fourth quarter. It cut the Mustangs lead to 17-14.
Zach Clausing put the Eagles ahead 21-17 later in the quarter on a 30-yard TD run. Clausing finished with 61 yards on eight carries, a 7.6 yards per carry average.
Totino-Grace bounced back from its first loss of the season, a Sept. 8 defeat at Centennial where a furious fourth quarter comeback fell short. The Eagles opened the season with a fourth quarter rally at Cretin-Derham Hall to prevail 13-12 Aug. 31. The defending champs have outscored opponents 37-8 in fourth quarters this season.
It hasn’t gone as well in the first three quarters thus far. The Eagles face their third-consecutive double-digit deficit going into the final quarter.
“I guess we’ve got to play better in the first three quarters,” Ferguson said.
Against Mounds View, it started with a winless team in desperate search for its first win of the season. The Mustangs suffered a close loss to Cretin-Derham Hall the week before and a defeat against Class 6A newcomer St. Michael-Albertville.
Mustangs quarterback Cole Stenstrom led his team out the gate quick against Totino-Grace with a 23-yard TD pass to Trevor Redmond in the first minute. Eagles quarterback Peyton Schuler answered with a 6-yard TD pass to Clausing with 5:40 left in the half.
Mounds View grabbed a 10-7 edge before halftime with a 36-yard field goal by Redmond. The Mustangs pulled further ahead at 3:30 in the third after a 30-yard interception return for a TD by Ty Koehn. Totino-Grace endured four turnovers in the game, including a goal line fumble in the first half.
Evan Spevacek had the lone takeaway for the Totino-Grace defense, an interception. The Eagles defense also overcame 323 total yards of offense by the Mustangs to hold the visitors to no offensive scores in the second half.
Schuler led the Eagles offense with 6-11 for 62 yards but had a couple interceptions. He also ran for eight yards on four attempts.
Eagles running back Carter Djam stepped up in the running game with 20 carries for 112 yards. The Eagles rushed for 211 yards as a team.
“Carter ran the ball really hard, and so did Zach Clausing,” Ferguson said.
Totino-Grace will look for its first win streak of the season Friday at 7 p.m. when Anoka (0-3) comes to town. The Tornadoes limited Centennial to a couple of scores last week in a 16-0 loss.
“There’s not a lot of margin for error for us,” Ferguson said about Anoka and upcoming matchups.
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