Irish survive their own miscues

Last-second field goal spoils Eagan homecoming game

Eagan’s Pete Economou turns upfield after catching a pass in Friday’s South Suburban Conference game against Rosemount. Rosemount defensive back Jeremy Macchitelli tries to bring down Economou. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

It wasn’t likely to look pretty on film, but Rosemount’s players boarded their buses last Friday knowing they’d at least be watching a victory.

“There were some ups and downs, like we’ve been having every week,” senior linebacker Andrew Dawson after his team defeated Eagan 17-16 in a South Suburban Conference football game. “But for the most part we did the things we were supposed to do, especially in the second half.”

When the Irish got together to review the game tape, it wasn’t going to lie – the five turnovers they committed were going to be there, in living color. But it also would show the big plays they made to stay in the game until Brandon Ekeren kicked a 31-yard field goal to put them ahead with 12 seconds remaining.

Rosemount (2-3) has had trouble holding on to the ball this season. Friday’s game was the third time this season the Irish has committed four or more turnovers in a game. But it was the first time this year they were able to overcome that problem and win the game.

Jeff Erdmann, in his 14th year as Rosemount’s head coach, said he couldn’t recall another time the Irish had five turnovers and still won.

“If you miss a block or blow an assignment, you get killed in our conference,” Erdmann said. “We didn’t have as much of that in the second half.”

Eagan, which lost its homecoming game, remained winless at 0-5. For the second consecutive week, the Wildcats lost on a field goal in the final minute.

Wildcats quarterback Ian Entzion threw touchdown passes of 30 and 10 yards to senior running back Pete Economou. The second one pushed Eagan’s lead to 16-7 with 7:42 left in the third quarter. Eagan missed the conversion after the second touchdown pass which, it turned out, was crucial.

With Rosemount’s offense sputtering thanks in large part to four interceptions and a lost fumble, it looked as if the nine-point margin might be enough.

Then the Irish began to stir. An 8-yard run by Gabe Ehlers on a fake punt allowed Rosemount to keep the ball, and a 31-yard pass from Sean Kalinowski to Dimitri Williams set up Ali Al-Khatib’s 15-yard touchdown run.

Williams also made a key play late in the first quarter, chasing down Eagan linebacker Mark Woodcock at the Rosemount 8-yard line after Woodcock intercepted a pass. Rosemount’s defense held and forced the Wildcats to kick a field goal.

Eagan’s Joe Kovach made an interception in Eagan territory with 3:35 remaining, although a dead-ball personal foul on the Wildcats moved the ball back to the 50. Eagan was unable to get a first down and was called for holding the first time it attempted to punt. On the second punt, Williams was able to return the ball to the Rosemount 44.

Three completions by Kalinowski – two to Tyler Hartigan and one to Jordan Herbranson –moved the ball to the Eagan 22. Kalinowski advanced it 8 yards closer on two running plays. After Eagan took two time outs to ice him, Ekeren banged his kick through the uprights.

Earlier in the fourth quarter Ekeren came up well short on a 40-yard attempt that would have put Rosemount ahead, but Erdmann said he didn’t hesitate about giving his kicker another chance.

“His range is out to 42, and that’s about where we were the last time,” Erdmann said. “He kicked the tee. But he drilled that second one, didn’t he?”

Ehlers caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kalinowski in the first quarter. Williams had four catches for 106 yards.

Dawson intercepted a pass on Eagan’s second offensive play, one of three interceptions the Irish had in the game.

Asked if the Irish made any defensive changes at halftime, Dawson said, “not many at all. Missed assignments were getting us in trouble. In the second half we were able to stop them on third and short a few times, and that helped us out.”

Rosemount, 2-2 in the South Suburban, travels to Lakeville South at 7 p.m. Oct. 5. Lakeville South also is 2-2 in the league. Three teams –Lakeville North, Prior Lake and Apple Valley – are tied for first in the league at 4-1.

The conference race might be the farthest thing from Eagan’s mind as the Wildcats go to Bloomington Jefferson on Oct. 5 in search of their first victory. Jefferson also is 0-5 after losing to Eastview 35-14 last week.