OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Stillwater was celebrating homecoming, but it was quarterback Jacques Perra who looked right at home while leading Roseville to a 32-20 Suburban East Conference football victory on Friday at Pony Stadium.
Perra passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns to keep the upstart Raiders (5-1) in a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings with East Ridge (5-1) and Mounds View (5-1). Stillwater (3-3), meanwhile, has lost three in a row for the first time since 2007 and eliminates itself from the league title chase.
“We desperately wanted to defend the conference title but that’s no longer possible, so things are a lot simpler for us,” said Ponies coach Beau LaBore. “We have to find a way to get this thing back on track.”
Perra, who completed 18 of 33 passes, took the Raiders 91 yards for a touchdown on their opening drive of the game and never looked back while jumping out to a 19-0 lead in the first half. Stillwater scored late in the first half and also pulled within five points on two occasions in the fourth quarter, but Perra and the Raiders answered each time to check off their fourth straight win since falling to East Ridge 42-19 in Week 2. This marks the first time the Raiders have won more than three games in a season since 2007.
Facing a defense that has struggled against the pass this season, Roseville racked up 424 yards while limiting the Ponies to just 253 yards. Led by a stout defense and 50-yard kick-off return by Tommy Arcand early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders were superior in all three phases of the game on Friday.
“I think we could have played more physical,” LaBore said. “It’s not very often that we feel a team is more physical than us, but at moments in that game they were more physical than us and that’s disappointing. They’re a good team, bigger and more physical than I thought they’d be. The things they’re good at are the things we’ve struggled at.”
Knowing the challenges Stillwater was going to face against the league’s top passing team on defense, the Ponies were unable to control the ball or keep pace with Roseville offensively. Nearly have of Stillwater’s yards came on two drives, an 60-yard drive that chewed up seven minutes before scoring just before halftime and a 65-yard drive that stalled at the Roseville 20 in the third quarter.
Quarterback Trevor Tillett scored from 1-yard out with 11 seconds remaining as Stillwater pulled within 19-7 to salvage an otherwise uneventful first half offensively.
“Offensively, we did not play well in the first quarter,” LaBore said. “We were not physical enough.”
Roseville gained just two of its 91 yards on the ground during its opening drive of the game, with Perra finding Jesper Horsted on a slant pass for a 14-yard touchdown on fourth down less than three minutes into the game. The Raiders also took advantage of a few breaks as Stillwater dropped a potential interception and Roseville also pounced on a Perra fumble inside the Stillwater 20.
“We had opportunities to get off the field,” LaBore said. “Our defense gave up some yards, but we were in position for us to bend but not break and the same was true of our offense. We moved the ball a long ways and covered a lot of time off the clock and ran double digit plays but didn’t find a way to put points on the board. A couple of plays here and there, or a series here and there it could have been a different game, but that doesn’t do us any good. We’ve got to make plays.”
Only four of Perra’s 18 completions went for less than 10 yards and he hooked up with Arcand for a 16-yard touchdown pass with two minutes remaining in the first quarter for a 12-0 lead. Perra also found Jorden Gannon for an 11-yard scoring pass midway through the second quarter for a 19-0 lead.
Stillwater responded with its best drive of the game to pull within 19-7 after the first of Knox’s two short touchdown runs in the final seconds of the half. The 15-play drive covered 60 yards and provided a boost for the Ponies, who also started the second half with the ball.
Roseville intercepted the Ponies near midfield to stop their first drive of the second half and Stillwater also came up short after driving inside the Raiders’ 20 on their next possession.
Jordan Phelps, a rare two-way player for the Ponies, provided a huge boost on the first play of the fourth quarter as he intercepted Perra and raced 56 yards down to the 1-yard line. Stillwater tailback Zach Knox, who finished with 35 rushes for 154 yards — which is about 32 below his season average — dove into the end zone on the next play as the Ponies closed within 19-14.
“We’ve been able to rely on him at receiver and defensive back and he made a great play in a big spot,” LaBore said. “We’ve gotten a lot out of Jordan Phelps this year and he’s going to continue in that role.”
Stillwater’s special teams lapse, however, on Arcand’s return to the Ponies’ 42 set up a short scoring drive as the Raiders increased their lead to 25-14 after Perra’s 27-yard touchdown run.
Perra finished with a team-high 10 carries for 54 yards, using his legs to rack up first downs and keep the ball away from Stillwater.
“It’s clear that they took some notes from our Hastings game when we got spread out,” LaBore said. “He created a match-up problem for us and made a couple of nice runs there.”
Stillwater answered with a 64-yard scoring drive that consisted of five straight Knox carries, capped by a 1-yard plunge with 9:03 remaining to climb within 25-20 after the two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.”
But the Raiders never allowed Stillwater to seize the momentum as Perra drove the Raiders across midfield and found Horsted for a 46-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes remaining for a 32-20 lead.
“Roseville put us in some tough situations and they really brought the pads,” LaBore said.
Roseville 12 7 0 13 — 32
Stillwater 0 7 0 13 — 20
Ros — Jesper Horsted 14 pass from Jacques Perra (pass failed) 9:38.
Ros — Tommy Arcand 16 pass from Perra (pass failed) 1:54.
Ros — Jorden Gannon 11 pass from Perra (Jose Salinas kick) 7:11.
St — Trevor Tillett 1 run (Charlie Styrbicki kick) :11.
St — Zach Knox 1 run (Styrbicki kick) 11:46.
Ros — Perra 27 run (run failed) 10:46.
St — Knox 1 run (pass failed) 9:03.
Ros — Horsted 46 pass from Perra (Salinas kick) 6:57.
First downs 21 13
Rushes-yards 23-80 42-144
Passing yards 344 109
Total yards 424 253
Comp-Att-Int. 18-33-1 9-23-1
Fumbles/lost 2/0 0/0
Penalties/yards 4/28 2/10
Punts/avg. 1/43.0 2/35.0
Rushing — Ros: Jacques Perra 10-54, Matthew Peckham 9-19, Sebastian Yang 1-7 and team 3-0; St: Zach Knox 35-154, Brooks Carroll 2-7 and Trevor Tillett 5-(-17).
Passing (com-att-yds-td-int) — Ros: Jacques Perra 18-33-344-4-1; St: Trevor Tillett 9-23-109-0-1.
Receiving — Ros: Jesper Horsted 7-134, Andrew Colvard 3-96, Jorden Gannon 4-59, Sebastian Yang 1-28, Tommy Arcand 2-27 and Matthew Peckham 1-0; St: Matt Anderson 5-70, Brooks Carroll 2-19, Zach Knox 1-11 and DJ Skie 1-9.
Kickoff returns — Ros: Tommy Arcand 2-66 and Andrew Colvard 1-21; St: DJ Skie 2-35, Brooks Carroll 1-21, Zach Knox 2-21 and Joey Freichels 1-4.
Punt returns — Ros: none; St: none.
Interceptions — Ros: Riley Sanocki 1-35; St: Jordan Phelps 1-56.
Fumble recoveries — Ros: none; St: none.
East Ridge 5 1
Mounds View 5 1
Roseville 5 1
Cretin-Derham Hall 4 2
Stillwater 3 3
White Bear Lake 2 4
Park-Cottage Grove 2 4
Woodbury 2 4
Hastings 2 4
Forest Lake 0 6
Roseville 32, Stillwater 20
Park 36, Woodbury 28
C-D Hall 14, White Bear Lake 6
East Ridge 42, Forest Lake 0
Mounds View 42, Hastings 21
Week 7 games
Stillwater at East Ridge
Mounds View at WB Lake
Cretin-Derham Hall at Park
Forest Lake at Roseville
Hastings at Woodbury