by Bob San
Sun Press Sports
One fan probably best summed up last Friday’s Totino Grace-Osseo state quarterfinal game at the Dome.
“What a great high school football game.”
The Eagles came away with a 34-33 victory and moved onto the state semifinal while the Orioles went home saddened by the loss but proud of a tremendous season. Totino Grace won the game when it intercepted Osseo’s two-point pass attempt with 1:00 left after Osseo scored a touchdown to move to within 34-33.
“We were struggling on D a little bit trying to stop them and I don’t think you want to play on a 10-yard field with Totino Grace,’ said Osseo coach Derrin Lamker, who did not hesitate in making the call to go for two points. “So we had a shot to move onto the state semi for two. I will probably do that a lot. It was fun. We had a shot but didn’t execute it. I was proud of my kids. You know what, it didn’t come to one play, it was a whole game of plays.”
Indeed the game featured numerous dramatic big plays and momentum shifts. Osseo struck first when linebacker Kwenton Perkins intercepted Grace quarterback Seth Sullwold on the first play from scrimmage. Perkins’ interception gave Osseo possession on the Grace 40, the Orioles offense could not take advantage. Osseo just missed connecting on a touchdown pass, and was stopped on a fourth-and-one run.
“We had a couple of bad possessions when we didn’t score and that cost you,” Lamker said.
The Eagles took the ball and ran it down field methodically to score the first touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Osseo answered immediately. A pass interference against Grace and Prince Krauh’s 44-yard run set up a three-yard TD plunge by Justin Ekiyor and a 7-6 Osseo lead with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
Grace came right and scored on a fourth-and-seven touchdown pass from Sullwold to Ben Mezzenga for a 12-7 lead.
The Orioles answered with a 73-yard scoring drive and a 13-12 lead. Matt Miedtke hooked up with Josh Goldschmidt for a 44-yard gain to set up Prince’s 18-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-four with 8:25 left in the half.
Osseo’s defense came up big late in the half and recovered two Eagle fumbles. Scott Hildebrand recovered a loose ball at the Grace 14. The Orioles cashed in and scored on Jamien Hampton’s two-yard TD run with 4:03 left.
The Eagles marched right back down field and appeared certain to score but fumbled in the end zone. Osseo’s Chris Davis recovered to preserve Osseo’s 20-12 halftime lead.
Grace’s huge offensive line took charge in the second half and the Eagles were picking up seven, eight yards on every play against the game but undersized Osseo defense. The Eagles launched an 86-yard scoring drive to tie the score 20-20 5:33 in the third quarter.
Osseo struck back quickly as Miedtke connected with Goldschmidt for a 43-yard touchdown pass and a 27-20 lead with 3 minutes left in the third.
Grace’s offense would not be denied and Sullwold completed two big passes, including a 10-yard TD toss to tie the game 27-27 going into the final quarter.
The Eagles got the big turnover in the fourth when their defense recovered an Osseo fumble at the Osseo 44. Grace’s offensive line took over and the Eagles ran straight down field to score on a six-yard TD with 6 minutes left in the game.
“We (the defense) were wearing down this year,” Lamker said. “Our guys are so small and this type of offense hurt you a little bit. We didn’t make a few tackles but that happens. Our defense has kept us in games all year and we just didn’t finish off.”
Osseo’s offense stepped up. Miedtke hit Gabriel Galamue for a 33-yard gain, Krauh had two big runs to set up Hampden’s 12-yard TD run. That set the stage for the dramatic two-point conversion attempt.
That play and the game didn’t go Osseo’s way but Lamker is proud of his overachieving group.
“Our kids represented Osseo well down here and I am really proud of them,” Lamker said. “Our fans, the whole town of Osseo is down here. That was pretty cool for those guys. It was a lot of fun. I was proud of my kids and my community.
The Orioles were not picked to finish high but surprised all the experts with a conference and section championship and a 9-2 overall record.
“It is really special,” Lamker said. “Coming in we were picked by everybody to be middle of the conference or below and then to make the state tournament and just turn everything around is special. Our kids, what can you say about them. It’s just a special fun year.”
There were tons of great moments and Lamker said the chance to play one of the final few football games at the Dome is one of them.
“It’s great for the kids to experience the Dome,” he said. “We got to eat lunch at Augsburg and practiced and we took a team nap together. It was so much fun and such a bonding time. It was really cool for our kids. They will really enjoy this experience when they look back on it.”
The Orioles will graduate many top players but Lamker is optimistic Osseo program will continue to prosper.
“Don’t count us out. We might be back here next season,” he said.