Football: Surging Royals hand Stillwater third straight loss

Woodbury running back Jalen Morrison tries to break free around defensive back Thomas Bruchu and two more Stillwater tacklers during an East Metro Blue sub-district football game at Woodbury on Friday, Sept. 30. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)
Woodbury running back Jalen Morrison tries to break free around defensive back Thomas Bruchu and two more Stillwater tacklers during an East Metro Blue sub-district football game at Woodbury on Friday, Sept. 30. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

WOODBURY — Looking more like the football team that was projected to contend in the East Metro Blue sub-district before the season started, Woodbury blanked Stillwater 18-0 on Friday, Sept. 30 at Woodbury High School.

The Royals (2-2 EMB, 2-3) lost three straight games to start the season, but has rebounded with shutout victories each of the past two weeks. Stillwater’s losing streak, meanwhile, reached three games after struggling offensively for the second week in a row.

The Ponies (1-3, 2-3) did not gain a first down and were limited to just six total yards in the opening half. It was just Woodbury’s first victory over the Ponies since 2008 and fifth all-time in 39 meetings in the series — an achievement that did not go unrecognized as the players doused coach Andy Hill with an icy water bath afterwards.

Woodbury has a handful of Division I recruits who contribute on both sides of the ball, but have been dealing with injuries and other issues that have sidelined players throughout the season.

“We’re still finding our way, but the nice part was this is our first game we had all of our projected starters healthy,” Hill said. “We’re finding our way.”

Stillwater linebacker Pete Hodnefield scoops the ball out of the air after Alex Oshin hits Woodbury quarterback Jake West to force a fumble in Friday’s East Metro Blue sub-district football game. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)
Stillwater linebacker Pete Hodnefield scoops the ball out of the air after Alex Oshin hits Woodbury quarterback Jake West to force a fumble in Friday’s East Metro Blue sub-district football game. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

It was bad timing for the Ponies — who have also been plagued with injuries on the offensive line and leading rusher Mason Green — but also a performance that left much to be desired according to Ponies coach Beau LaBore.

“This is the first night they had all of their players healthy and they got on the right page last week so we knew we were going to get a good performance from them, but we were far from our best football tonight,” the coach said. “They made some quality plays, but we’ve got to find a way. It’s more on how we played than how they played. If we play our kind of football and play more consistently and step up and make a few big plays we feel like we would have been in pretty good shape.”

Despite its first-half struggles on offense, the Ponies trailed just 6-0 late in the first half. Woodbury was impressive while marching 76 yards in 14 plays on its first drive of the game, capped by 6-foot-3, 255-pound University of North Dakota recruit Jalen Morrison’s 1-yard scoring plunge. The teams traded turnovers late in the first quarter and the Ponies stopped Woodbury inside the 5 to escape further damage.

Defense was keeping Stillwater in the game, but the Royals received three 20-plus yard runs from Ricardo Twinawe on a six-play, 75-yard drive that he finished with a 28-yard scoring scamper with just 44 seconds remaining in the half.

Stillwater’s longest play in the first half went for five yards and only two of the team’s 15 plays gained more than three yards.

“The first half in a lot of ways was miserable,” LaBore said. “Had we gotten out of there down 6-0 we would have been in pretty good shape. We didn’t have a first down on offense and didn’t give ourselves a chance to have quality field positions. We made some key stops on defense, but had other opportunities to keep them off the scoreboard and didn’t.”

The quick scoring drive for the Royals took on more importance after Stillwater started playing better in the second half. The Ponies gained 176 yards after the intermission.

“It was huge,” Hill said. “It’s the type of thing where you let teams hang around and all of the sudden they score or break a long run or we miss a tackle and then they’re up 7-6.”

Stillwater showed signs of life while driving to the Woodbury 6-yard line, but Matthew McGinley was stopped after a short reception down to the 1 on fourth down.

The Royals again took advantage of some big plays to thwart Stillwater’s momentum. Quarterback Jake West broke free for a 59-yard gain on first down and he then hooked up with Jeremiah Coddon for a 46-yard touchdown pass with 6:51 remaining in the third for the final score of the game and an 18-0 lead.

Stillwater has been plagued by several dropped passes the past few weeks, but were also limited to 101 rushing yards on 32 attempts — compared to 45 for 297 yards for the Royals. Matt Crowell led the Ponies with 22 carries for 88 yards.

“There’s not a whole lot of things we could do from a play-calling perspective,” LaBore said of the second half. “We gave them a couple of things that helped them, however, it was simply a need to play with our shoulder pads and to want it a little more. We were a little flat and that surprises me. Fortunately we played with much better effort and some heart in the second half offensively. Our defense was put in a lot of tough situations, so they made an awful lot of stops under some duress, but we also had some opportunities to make some big plays and we feel like a couple of their scores were things that we did poorly as opposed to them doing well.”

Stillwater’s Andrew Weisbrod chases down Woodbury receiver Jeremiah Coddon on Friday night at Woodbury High School.
Stillwater’s Andrew Weisbrod chases down Woodbury receiver Jeremiah Coddon on Friday night at Woodbury High School.

Grayson Hosch completed 10 of 28 passes for 81 yards with two interceptions, but the big plays that carried the Royals all night were lacking for Stillwater.

“We feel like Grayson threw the ball well and was pretty accurate,” LaBore said. “We had some plays we could have made, but we didn’t. It’s kind of been three weeks making a few too many mistakes and not making really any game-changing plays. I think we could continue to get a little more physical to help us work through some of that.”

The Royals racked up 385 yards and were able to overcome their nine penalties for 95 yards, compared to just three for 20 yards for Stillwater.

“This is our second shutout in a row and our guys are taking a lot of pride in that,” Hill said. “The thing we’re starting to see that we were hoping to see all year is this energy. The energy level can get your through some down times.”

Stillwater has been held to 190 total yards or less in three of its five games this season.

Andrew Weisbrod finished with eight solo tackles and led the Ponies with 22 defensive points while Pete Hodnefield collected five solo tackles — including one for a loss — three assisted tackles and a fumble recovery to finish with 20 defensive points.

• In other EMB sub-district games on Friday, East Ridge took over sole possession of first place with a 21-7 victory over Cretin-Derham Hall, handing the Raiders their first loss of the season. Stillwater’s homecoming opponent this week Mounds View defeated White Bear Lake 34-27, while Roseville stopped Forest Lake 27-12.

Stillwater 0 0 0 0 — 0

Woodbury 6 6 6 0 — 18

Wo — Jalen Morrison 1 run (kick failed) 6:06.

Wo — Ricardo Twinawe 28 run (kick failed) :44.

Wo — Jeremiah Coddon 46 pass from Jake West (pass failed) 6:51.

Team stats

St Wo

First downs 12 14

Rushes-yards 32-101 45-297

Passing yards 81 91

Total yards 182 388

Comp-Att-Int. 10-28-2 6-18-0

Fumbles/lost 1/1 2/2

Penalties/yards 3/20 9/95

Punts/avg. 4/40.0 3/29.7

Individual statistics

Rushing — St: Matt Crowell 22-88, Grayson Hosch 6-18, Matthew McGinley 1-0, Cody Venske 2-(-1) and Mason Schwerzler 1-(-4); Wo: Ricardo Twinawe 12-128, Jake West 21-118, Ryan Christensen 2-26, Jeremiah Coddon 3-13, Jalen Morrison 5-12 and team 2-0.

Passing (com-att-yds-td-int) — St: Grayson Hosch 10-28-81-0-2; Wo: Jake West 6-15-91-1-0, Ryan Christensen 0-2-0-0-0 and Ricardo Twinawe 0-1-0-0-0.

Receiving — St: Matthew McGinley 4-41, Matt Crowell 3-30, Ryan Berg 2-5 and Fisher Jakupciak 1-5; Wo: Jeremiah Coddon 3-67, Richardo Twinawe 2-22 and Nathan Bursch 1-2.

Kickoff returns — St: Austin Murr 1-13, Ben Peterson 1-10 and Graham Laubscher 1-5; Wo: Nico Bolden 1-15.

Punt returns — St: none; Wo: Nico Bolden 2-15.

Interceptions — St: ; Wo: Nico Bolden 1-41 and Ricardo Twinawe 1-36.

Fumble recoveries — St: Pete Hodnefield 1-0 and Thomas Bruchu 1-0; Wo: NA 1-0.

Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]

East Metro Blue

EMB Overall

W L W L

East Ridge 4 0 4 1

Mounds View 3 1 4 1

C-D Hall 3 1 4 1

Woodbury 2 2 2 3

Roseville 2 2 2 3

Stillwater 1 3 2 3

Forest Lake 1 3 1 4

White Bear Lake 0 4 0 5

Week 5 results

Woodbury 18, Stillwater 0

East Ridge 21, C-D Hall 7

Roseville 27, Forest Lake 12

Mounds View 34, WB Lake 27

Friday’s games

Mounds View at Stillwater

Woodbury at White Bear Lake

Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall

East Ridge at Forest Lake

 

10-7 spo-fb defense