A large halftime deficit didn't faze Cretin-Derham Hall junior quarterback Jackson Crawford. Neither did the bevy of Anoka defenders in constant pursuit.

Crawford kept second-half drives alive and ultimately led the Raiders to a 21-20 comeback victory in the opening round of the Class 6A football tournament Friday at the University of St. Thomas.

"Our kids played really well, but their quarterback beat us," Anoka coach Jeff Buerkle said. "So many times we dialed up defenses, got right in his face and we'd miss. He's a great athlete."

Down 20-7 at halftime with one first down to their credit, the Raiders followed as Crawford led the comeback. He stod out whether extending plays or preserving drives.

"It was extremely frustrating only getting one first down in the entire first half," Crawford said. "That really showed us that this was a fight."

No. 5 seed Anoka (4-5) cruised in the first half as senior running back Ollie Nigh ran 18 times for 159 yards. However, the Tornadoes saw two trips into the red zone result in field goals rather than touchdowns.

In the fourth quarter, No. 4 seed Cretin-Derham Hall (7-2) recovered a dropped punt at Anoka's 34-yard line. Inspired, the Raiders converted twice on third down before scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

A Ryan Larson interception with 29 seconds remaining sealed the victory.

"In the second half we just played as a team and everybody did what they were supposed to do," Larson said.

David La Vaque