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Maple Grove Falls in State Semifinal to East Ridge

Nov 07, 2015 11:49AM ● Published by Doug Erlien

Gallery: East Ridge 24 Maple Grove 20 [23 Images] Click any image to expand.

Maple Grove  Head Coach Matt Lombardi stood before his Crimson following the team’s semifinal game against East Ridge HighSchool. His football team had come a mere 11-yards from playing for a state championship. There were tears and hugs following the 24-20 loss Friday, Nov. 7.

The game gave a glimpse of just how far the program has come since Lombardi took the reins five years ago.

“From the start of the season to now, there hasn’t been a team that has come as far as you guys,” Lombardi said.

The Raptors jumped up early during the match up, capitalizing on Crimson mistakes and methodically marching down the field, scoring twice and adding a short field goal. The Raptors used size on their offensive line combined with a physical running game to dominate the first half of the game.

Trailing 17-0, the Crimson offensive attack got on track as they put together a drive and found the end zone when quarterback Brad Davison found tight end Will Reul wide open at the goal line.

East Ridge drove the opening kickoff down to the Crimson three-yard line. On fourth and goal, the Raptors fumbled the football and Maple Grove recovered in the end zone giving them the ball and momentum.

On the next play, Davison found running back Isaac Collins on a short pass play and the speedy senior sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown making it a 17-12 game.

Davison would give his team the lead for the first time late in the third quarter scoring from three yards away. The Crimson led 20-17 heading into the fourth quarter with renewed momentum.

A pair of holding penalties forced the Raptors to punt the ball, but the Crimson couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity to extend the lead. On a third down play, Collins fumbled and East Ridge took advantage.

Two plays later, the Raptors reclaimed the lead on a 16-yard touchdown run.

The Crimson offense had two opportunities to mount a comeback. The first stalled out after a promising drive led to a punt. The second came with a little more than 20 seconds left in the game.

On the final play of the game, Davison rolled to his right and heaved the ball down field. Tight end Jared Martinson rose above the Raptors defensive backs and made the catch at the 30-yard line. The senior found some space and began to make his way to the end zone and an improbable comeback.

Martinson passed the 25, then the 20, he was finally brought down at the 11-yard line. Just short of advancing to a final game.

“The only way to have greatness is sometimes you have to get through disappointment,” Lombardi said. “When you put your heart on the line and it doesn’t go the way you want, it’s sad.”

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