By Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
In a game that featured two high-powered offenses that seemed unstoppable, Roseville made good on just a bit more of their scoring chances to defeat Maple Grove 24-21 in a state quarterfinal game at TCF Stadium last Thursday.
“It was a disappointing night for the kids,” Lombardi said. “They put their heart and soul into it but the outcome was not what they wanted. We had a great year but it was a disappointing ending.”
The game winning points came on a short field goal by Roseville with 16 seconds left in the game with the score tied 21-21. The game should not have come down to a field goal because Maple Grove had many good scoring chances. The Crimson missed two field goals, including one with just under 2 minutes left in the game, did not connect on two wide open passes the could lead to touchdowns and came up short on a couple fourth-and-short plays in the red zone. The Raiders also missed some good scoring chances, but managed to score three more points than the Crimson.
“It was a bizarre game because both teams had only six offensive possessions and both teams punted only once,” Lombardi said. “So it became even more important you capitalize on your scoring chances because you don’t get many. Both teams were moving up and down the field at will, but when it got down to the 10 it got tougher. Both defenses made plays when they had to. We did not execute and did not finish some of our drives the way we thought we should.”
The game pitted Maple Grove’s potent ground attack featuring Tahi Nomane and Clark Wieneke against Roseville’s passing attack led by quarterback Jacques Perra and receiver Jesper Horsted. Maple Grove had 350 yards rushing. Nomane powered his way for 205 yards and Wieneke ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns before departing in the fourth quarter. Perra completed 19 passes to Horsted for 293 yards and two touchdowns. In fact, Perra and the Raiders scored 21 points in the first half against a Maple Grove defense that did not give up 21 points in a game all season.
We knew Perra and Horsted are good. Perra is a candidate for Player of the Year,” Lombardi said. “But he hurt us more with his running. He is a big kid and it was tough to stop him.”
The Crimson defense gave up more yards and points than any game this season but it still contributed mightily in the game. On the game’s second play, Emmanual Ehrich tackled Perra and forced a fumble. Peder Olson picked up the ball and rambled 30 yards down the sideline for the touchdown to give Maple Grove a 7-0 lead.
Roseville answered with a Perra to Horsted 31-yard TD pass to tie it 7-7. Perra and Horsted then connected on several passes to set up a two-yard TD run to give Roseville a 14-7 lead. The Crimson defense stepped up again late in the first half. Jake Engelken tackled a Roseville back for a huge loss at the one and the Crimson offense got the ball on the Roseville 35. They cashed in and scored on a three-yard TD run by Wieneke to make it 14-14 with 1:38 left.
But that was enough time for Perra to drive all the way down the field and toss a two-yard TD pass to Horsted with 13 seconds left to give Roseville a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Crimson came out firing in the second half and launched an impressive drive behind the running of Wieneke and Nomane. Wieneke capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown. The Crimson defense buckled down in the second half and held Roseville scoreless until the final field goal. It came up with another turnover when Adam Brandt intercepted a pass but the offense was hampered when Wieneke left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. Nomane, who seemed to be hobbling too, became the target of Roseville’s defense and the Crimson could not punch in another score. The Crimson defense kept the Raiders out of the end zone on their final drive but Perra did get them close enough for the winning field goal.
Looking back, Lombardi said a slip by a back here and a missed block there cost his team the victory in this close game. The loss of Wieneke down the stretch was especially costly. “It hurt not having Clark out there because he gives us more flexibility,” Lombardi said. “It was a bad break for us.”
The loss was the first of the season for the second-ranked Crimson, who had won 10 straight games. The Crimson were devastated because their dream of winning the state championship was crushed but Lombardi said the players should hold their heads high for what they have accomplished.
“I am very proud of these kids because they have accomplished a lot in just three years,” Lombardi said. “If you look at the landscape of the program when we started, the program was struggling and we did not get a lot of respect. They did a quick turnaround.”
In three short years, Lombardi and his Crimson have turned the program around. In 2013, the Crimson won the conference, the section and finished the regular season undefeated and ranked second in the state. Lombardi especially wants to thank the senior class for playing a huge role in the program’s resurgent.
“We have some seniors who have been with the program for three, four years,” Lombardi said. “From day one of their sophomore year to now, the progress they’ve made is unbelievable. They’ve changed the attitude and what’s expected of them. I am hopeful the classes that follow will take that lead and make the program even better. If you look at the success of the program you can circle these kids. They are the ones that made it happen. I am grateful to them.”