Nobody wants a football game to be decided by an official’s call. Especially if the call goes against your team.
That was the case for White Bear Lake in a 28-23 homecoming loss to East Ridge on Friday night. An apparent winning touchdown was called back, not to mention an end-zone non-call going against them, in the last 20 seconds.
“That’s football. You have to live with it,” said Ryan Bartlett, Bears coach.
Cam Zaleski snagged a screen pass from a scrambling Branden Berwald and barged 21 yards into the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left — then looked back on the field and dropped to the ground, head in his hands, when he saw the flag. The officials called an illegal block from behind.
The play before, Berwald had lofted a pass to Sammy Russ in the left corner of the end zone. Raptors defender Andres Pettit reached over the receiver’s shoulder to poke at the ball as it arrived. Russ couldn’t hang on. No flag.
The play after the nullified TD, Berwald tossed another screen, to Brice Peters, who zigzagged 13 yards and was stopped at the five. There were zeroes on the clock, but it was re-set at 1.8 seconds. One more play.
Berwald tried another lob to the other corner and the Raptors again broke it up. Game over.
“That was good defense by them,” Bartlett said about the two end-zone tosses. “You don’t want a official’s call to decide a game.”
This was almost a miracle finish for the Bears, who trailed 28-14 late In the third quarter. Jeff Odamtten’s 23-yard field goal cut the cap to 28-17.
With just 4:09 left, Peters cut across the middle to snag a Berwald pass and dashed 40 yards to score. Down 28-23, the Bears tried a pass for two points. The Raptors broke it up, which proved crucial.
East Ridge was poised to run out the clock before Bear lineman Dylan Larson threw a Raptor for a six-yard loss, giving them a third-and-13, on which the Bears’ Monte Collins and Brad Snook flushed quarterback Jackson Turner out of the pocket, forced him to run and stopped him for a short gain.
Punting from midfield, East Ridge suffered a high snap and the punter was smothered at the Bear 29. The Bears were in business with a minute left.
“We just needed one more play than we made,” Bartlett said. “The guys were tough and resilient tonight. Every time they got down, they came back hard.”
East Ridge (3-2) led 14-0 in the first quarter on two touchdown passes from Riley Larson to Brody Kriesel covering 30 and 58 yards. The Bears owned the second quarter with Peters dashing 23 yards and Zaleski three yards for TD’s, tying it 14-14.
The Raptors spurted back against 28-14 in the third quarter as KJ Moore bolted 60 yards up the middle for a TD and later added a two-yard score.
Moore gained 155 yards in 19 carries as the Raptors rushed for 196 yards and passed for 179. Kriesel racked up 101 yards on three catches.
Berwald, junior quarterback had his best passing game, completing 15 of 26 for 186 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Peters had probably the best outing of a distinguished two-year varsity career as he caught eight passes for 104 yards while carrying the ball 15 times for 85 yards. He also threw a 37-yard pass to Russ over the top that set up the field goal.
The Bears had 186 yards rushing on 41 attempts. Zaleski carried 17 times for 65 yards. Odamtten gained 24 yards on a fake punt.
White Bear Lake will play at Roseville (0-5) on Friday evening.
East Ridge ………...... 14 0 14 0 — 28
White Bear Lake ….... 0 14 3 6 — 23
ER — Brody Kriesel 30 pass from Riley Larson (Cory Gounilli kick)
ER — Kriesel 58 pass from Larson (Gounilli kick)
WBL — Brice Peters 23 run (Jeff Odamtten kick)
WBL — Cam Zaleski 2 run (Odamtten kick)
ER — KJ Moore 60 run (Gounilli kick)
ER — Moore 2 run (Gounilli kick)
WBL — Odamtten 23 field goal
WBL — Peters 40 pass from Berwald (pass failed)