As if to put an exclamation point on the best football season in team history, Osseo, a team accustomed to comebacks, did it in the most dramatic fashion possible to defeat East Ridge 14-13 and win its first Class 6A state championship.
Prince Kruah scored on a 4-yard sweep, his 43rd carry of Friday night, with 24 seconds left in the game to give Osseo the victory. Kruah finished with 189 yards rushing.
"I wanted the ball so badly," said Kruah, whose performance stood far taller than his 5-7 frame. "My heart was beating so badly there. It was, 'Give the ball to me. I'll get those 4 yards.' "
In the semifinals, Osseo (10-3) had to rally from a two-touchdown fourth-quarter deficit to beat Totino-Grace. Friday, the Orioles repeatedly made trips into East Ridge territory. But outside of a 51-yard touchdown pass from Malik Gaillard to Damario Armstrong on their opening drive, they had nothing but frustration to show for their efforts.
When they got the ball back with 3:22 left in the fourth quarter and trailing by six points, they responded with the calm determination that can only come from experience.
"We knew we had to fight, and I felt like that situation against Totino-Grace really prepared us for this game," Armstrong said. "We knew on the last drive we could come down, make some plays and win the game. We knew anything was possible."
Unlike previous Osseo teams, the 2015 Orioles were as much force as they were finesse. They found a play that worked for them against East Ridge — Kruah on a sweep to the right side.
"We call that the 26 power," Osseo coach Derrin Lamker said. "Give the ball to [Kruah] and go get some blocks."
Osseo went 79 yards on the game-winning drive. Kruah lugged the ball eight times, absorbing considerable punishment but always bouncing back.
"As soon as I get home, I'm getting in the ice bath," Kruah said.
Before the game, the reputation as the metro's most punishing running back went to East Ridge's Dominik London. By the time the game was over, however, Kruah had wrested that title from him.
"He's an amazing runner," said London, who was held to 126 yards rushing, his second-lowest total of the season. "It gives the you feeling of how the other team feels. I knew Prince was going to get big plays, and they just came out on top."
For much of the game, it appeared East Ridge's brute defensive strength and timely offense would be enough.
Known as a team that struggles through the air, the Raptors (11-2) didn't throw frequently, but they were effective. Quarterback Otumos Payemanu completed three of four passes for 67 yards, highlighted by a 23-yard scoring pass to Sam Schiller in the first half that gave them a 10-7 halftime lead.
Kicker Grant Ryerse, who kicked a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, added his second field goal of the game, a 41-yarder, in the second half. But a missed field goal attempt later in the half set the stage for Osseo's comeback.