Jackson Crawford dreamed of making big plays for Cretin-Derham Hall this season but never imagined doing so as a defender.
Crawford, a top quarterback last fall, was switched to linebacker for his senior year. Danny Callahan, who replaced Crawford behind center, threw two touchdown passes in a 19-14 upset of Roseville on Wednesday night. But Crawford cemented the pivotal victory with a sack and forced fumble.
No. 10 Cretin-Derham Hall (6-2) muddied the playoff picture with its fourth consecutive victory, becoming a strong candidate to earn the top seed in Class 6A, Section 4.
"We deserve it, for sure," Crawford said. And Crawford deserves credit for accepting a position switch.
"I'd never played defense before, but I took the challenge head-on," Crawford said.
The same approach created his big play in the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale at the University of St. Thomas. No. 6 Roseville (6-2) drove the ball inside the Cretin-Derham Hall 20-yard line looking for a go-ahead touchdown.
Quarterback Luke Bouchart dropped back and Crawford pounced.
"I went in head first and right at the last second I saw the ball in front of my face, so I tried to swat it out," Crawford said.
Matthew Cunningham recovered at the Cretin-Derham Hall 18-yard line with 2:15 left and Roseville's potent offense never saw the ball again.
Roseville squandered two earlier comeback chances. Max Sandin broke up a fourth-down pass near the goal line and the ensuing Roseville drive ended with a failed fourth down run at the Cretin-Derham Hall 2-yard line.
Then a short Cretin-Derham Hall punt gave Roseville the ball just 43 yards from the end zone. But Crawford penetrated the pocket and stripped the ball from Bouchart.
Roseville also failed to execute late in the first half. Trailing 12-7, Roseville started from its 17-yard line with 1:33 to go but was called for delay a game and then gave up a sack.
On fourth-and-22, Cretin-Derham Hall deflected a punt out of bounds at Roseville's 23-yard line.
One play later, Callahan hit Jacob Prince in the middle of the Roseville defense for a touchdown with five seconds left.
"We've got some real weapons on offense," Sandin said. "We might not have shown it tonight, but I think we can get it going again in the playoffs."
Especially after Cretin-Derham Hall moved one of its top offensive weapons to defense.
"Coach Brooks [Bollinger] decided to put me and our team in the best position to make something happen," Crawford said.