An East Ridge team that started four seniors and put the keys to the offense in a freshman's hands grew up Friday.
The Raptors outlasted cross-city rival Woodbury in a 28-26 victory before an overflow crowd estimated at more than 5,000 fans.
Freshman Seth Green threw two touchdown passes and led two more scoring drives, including the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter.
"The whole week we talked about the rivalry," Green said. ''Woodbury won in overtime last season. It gave us something to work toward."
The Raptors led 21-13 late into the third quarter until Woodbury quarterback Sawyer Moon and Reid Peters connected for their second touchdown of the evening, this time for 27 yards with 25.3 seconds remaining in the quarter. But a two-point conversion pass attempt was tipped and fell incomplete and East Ridge maintained a 21-19 lead.
A Nick Leach touchdown from 5 yards out pushed East Ridge's lead to 28-19 early in the fourth quarter, but Woodbury (2-2) would not relent. Quran Al-Hameed finished a 91-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good, but the Royals still trailed 28-26. Woodbury's last chance, on fourth-and-14 from near midfield with 1:25 remaining, ended with an incomplete pass.
"Give Woodbury a lot of credit," Raptors coach Mike Pendino said. "They came in here and really played hard."
East Ridge showed what it learned from previous losses to Suburban East Conference powers Cretin-Derham Hall and Mounds View, putting together a solid four-quarter effort.
"We finally finished," Pendino said.
East Ridge miscues wiped out three potential touchdowns before halftime. A ball from Green was thrown just a shade too far for Xavier Cole to convert what would have been a 63-yard touchdown. The pair later connected for what would have been a 58-yard score, but Cole, running alone with the ball, fumbled it away.
Facing third-and-goal at Woodbury's 1-yard line, Green fumbled the snap and allowed the Royals to escape into halftime trailing 21-13.
"It probably didn't have to be that close, but it was," Pendino said.
Long passing touchdowns got both teams on the board early. Peters (26 yards) and Cole (40 yards) scored as the Raptors led 7-6 after the first quarter.