Max Ritter’s field goal lifts Rosemount past Lakeville South in battle of heavyweights

The heavyweight matchup lived up to its billing.

Edge-of-your-bleacher-seat drama? Yes.

Hard-hitting defenses? Check.

Two teams that could be playing well into November? Definitely.

And it was decided by a kicker.

Max Ritter split the uprights from 35 yards out with 1:38 remaining and Rosemount rallied to beat Lakeville South 10-7 Friday to ruin the Cougars’ homecoming.

The snap was high, but holder Landon Danner, the team’s quarterback, got the ball down.

“I trusted my holder and my snapper.” Ritter said. “I try not to think about it. I just saw it come, kicked it and let it happen.”

The senior is 3 for 3 on field goals and 13 for 13 on extra points this season.

Danner ran for a touchdown for Rosemount (5-0), ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, which got another dominating defensive performance and beat a top-10 team for the second straight week. The Irish beat then top-ranked Eden Prairie 14-7 last Thursday.

“What we’ve accomplished so far is special,” said coach Jeff Erdmann. “… This is smashmouth football. It’s hard but the guys have embraced it. They want to be special, and we’ve set ourselves up for a good spot right now.”

The Irish have yet to shut out an opponent but have allowed just 38 points this season with no opponent scoring more than 10.

“Our defensive line has just played outstanding, our defensive backs last week did amazing,” defensive lineman Hayden Bills said. “We just play more physical than other teams. That’s how we like it.”

Ryder Patterson scored in the second quarter for the Cougars (3-2), ranked sixth in Class 6A.

Tied at 7-7 with 7:07 left, the Irish slowly worked down the field with precious time ticking off. The 11-play, all-run drive until the kick included two third-down conversions and a 22-yard dash around left end by Danner.

“We were just poised,” Danner said. “Coaches put us through those kind of situations in practice so when we come out here we’re used to it. We had to make those big-time plays.”

Lakeville South drove to the Rosemount 40 with a minute left, but a penalty and pair of incompletions ended the threat.

The Cougars entered the night averaging 40.5 points per game if you include a 21-6 loss to Eden Prairie two weeks ago, 52 if you don’t.

Using a Power-T formation, the Cougars averaged 338 yards on the ground though four games but were held to 125 rushing — 63 by Carson Hansen, who was averaging 196 yards per game and ran for 322 last week against Farmington — and 66 passing. They finished with eight first downs, two fewer than the Irish.

“It comes down to execution on offense and we had too many plays on offense where we went backwards,” said Lakeville South coach Ben Burk, citing as examples “silly” penalties and miscommunication between he and his offense at one time. The Cougars were 3 of 11 on third down and 1 of 4 on fourth.

Scoreless after an opening quarter that was played in 20 minutes of real time, Patterson ran 10 yards on a fourth-and-3 in the opening minute of the second quarter and scored from the 5 one play later for a 7-0 lead.

The drive began at the Rosemount 48 after Wyatt Ronn got a piece of an Irish punt.

That kind of play was needed in a game where possessions were at a premium with a pair of run-focused teams.

Down by a score coming out of intermission, Rosemount methodically marched downfield, finishing a 12-play, 76-yard drive when Danner scored from the 4. The drive took a bit more than six minutes. Rosemount had five first downs on the drive; it had two in the first half.

Rosemount had a mere 44 of its 157 yards of offense in the first half. “They have a good defense, but we did not execute well,” Erdmann said.

What changed in the final two quarters?

“We were more effective when we didn’t have the minus-1 or there were two plays in a row where there was one yard or two yards and then you get behind the chains,” he said.

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