Football team begins season with a win

Andrew Birkeland, Staff Writer

The last time the Red Knight football team played at home was at the end of the 2011 season when they pulled off a thrilling section semifinal victory over the Orono Spartans 36-32. While the opening game of the 2012 season on Thursday, Aug. 30 did not match the stakes of that game, it did equal the level of entertainment and excitement when the Red Knights beat their rival, the Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks, 49-42. Both teams gained 955 yards of total offense and 36 first-downs in a game that lasted just over three hours.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawks scored first with a two yard touchdown run from running back Ashanti Payne. The Red Knights countered four minutes later with senior running back Thomas Gorilla running into the end zone from a yard out. Cooper added a 67 yard pass from quarterback Briceton Scott-Burch, who finished the game with 242 yards passing and two touchdowns.

The Red Knight offense was led by Studsrud, a junior, who finished with 104 yards passing on 11 attempts and 174 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Garrett Haughey also added 93 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Senior running back Billy Kellogg was a key player for Cooper with 199 rushing yards and catching three passes for 57 yards.

The Red Knights trailed 16-7 at halftime, but both offenses exploded in the second half. The Red Knights’ offense created holes for quarterback Keaton Studsrud to take advantage by going on touchdown runs of 66, 45, and 3 yards. “Once our offense got it together, we were unstoppable,” junior Jeremy Pastir, starting center, said.

The Red Knights, however, were at the mercy of the fast-paced Cooper offense at times. All three of the Hawk’s touchdowns in the fourth quarter spanned over 45 yards and exposed weaknesses in BSM’s defense. “We have to play defense like a cat killing mice, just keep coming and coming and coming,” junior John Lager, wide receiver, said.

The Red Knights made an impact on the defensive end with junior safety Sam Lynch intercepting a Hawk pass in the third quarter stopping a potential scoring drive. Lynch finished the game with 13 tackles, one interception, and a receiving touchdown from junior quarterback Jack Goldstein, who split time with Studsrud during the second half.

Down 49-42 on their final drive, the Hawks needed to find the endzone to possibly force overtime. On the Hawk’s last play, Studsrud, who replaced injured cornerback Joe Pauly, intercepted a Scott-Burch pass, sealing a Red Knight victory.

This win for the Red Knights gives them an edge in not only the conference standings, but in section seeding as well. By gaining victories over Fridley and Cooper, the Red Knights’ two conference foes in section 6AAAA, BSM will put themselves in good position for a number one seed for sections.

The Red Knights next game is at home on Friday, September 7 against the Spring Lake Park Panthers, the defending North Suburban Conference champions, and a 2011 state participant.