With his football team leading by just a touchdown in the second half, East Ridge defensive back Griffen Davis kept faith as the Raptors' other units went cold.

A field-goal attempt hits the upright. The defense turns Cretin-Derham Hall over on downs.

Running back Dominik London, untouched, loses a fumbles. The defense holds the Raiders for three consecutive downs and forces a short punt.

The offense finally rejoined the party. Quarterback Otumus Payemanu took the ensuing play 38 yards to the end zone for a 28-14 lead in the fourth quarter and East Ridge cruised from there in a 35-20 victory.

"All year we've been preaching, 'Never be the team that gets down and just quits,' " said Davis, one of the team's five senior captains. "We want to be the team that's always positive and always has a chance to make something happen."

As the close game wore on, a favorite was hard to determine. After all, East Ridge has shown no quit despite losing two Division I players a season earlier than expected and its head coach a week before the season.

On the other sideline, Cretin-Derham Hall (3-2) played with the moxie of a team that trailed in all three of its previous victories this season.

East Ridge (4-1) won out, though, outscoring the host Raiders 21-6 in the second half at the University of St. Thomas.

"Heart," said Raptors junior running back Dominik London, identifying the key to victory. London showed plenty, rushing 26 times for 205 yards. Payemanu added 115 yards on 16 carries.

"We fight through adversity,'' London said. "We believe everything will pan out if we worry about ourselves."

The teams went into halftime tied 14-14. East Ridge scored first thanks to a 69-yard punt return by Davis. He set up the first of two Connor Mohs 1-yard touchdown runs in the first half.

Raiders quarterback Daniel Ryan hit Denzel Fondungallah in stride for a 47-yard score. A 17-yard run by Jonathan Westafer put the home team ahead 14-7 late in the first quarter.

East Ridge responded with four consecutive touchdowns as the Raptors defense clamped down.

"The defense is always amazing," London said. "In my heart, they are the No. 1 defense in the state."