Holy Family advances to state semifinals

The Holy Family football team survived the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament on Nov. 9, pulling off a 27-23 victory over Hill-Murray.

Holy Family senior Conner Riddle carries the ball during the Fire’s section final against Holy Angels. Photo by Brian Nelson - Contributing Photographer

Holy Family senior Conner Riddle carries the ball during the Fire’s section final against Holy Angels. Photo by Brian Nelson – Contributing Photographer

The Fire jumped ahead in the first quarter, on a six-yard touchdown run by sophomore Chazz Johnson. The kick was good to put Holy Family up 7-0 at the end of the first. Senior quarterback Rob LaRose connected on a four-yard pass to Johnson for the Fire’s second touchdown of the game. Hill-Murray answered with a 62-yard touchdown run by senior Michael Alada. Big plays continued throughout the half, with a 66-yard run by Johnson, before a 53-yard Hill-Murray pass. The Fire led 20-13 at halftime.

Hill-Murray tied the game at 20-20 in the third quarter, before Holy Family senior Connor Byrnes had a three-yard touchdown run to give the Fire a one-score lead. Hill-Murray was unable to get into the end zone before time and downs ran out, and kicked a 38-yard field goal to finish the game 27-23 in favor of Holy Family.

The Fire offense was nearly an all-rushing game. Senior quarterbacks LaRose and Ben Baker attempted only three passes. Baker was 1-2 for 16 yards, while LaRose was 1-1 for five yards and one touchdown. Johnson had both receptions for 21 total yards.

Johnson led the Holy Family rushing staff with 148 yards on 28 carries for two touchdowns. Other top rushers included Byrnes (30 yards, one touchdown), senior Conner Riddle (39 yards), and Baker (18 yards). Holy Family scored four touchdowns on 59 offensive plays for 263 yards.

Hill-Murray had three touchdowns in 45 plays for 277 yards.

Byrnes and Johnson each sacked the Hill-Murray quarterback, while others picked off four interceptions. Senior Charlie Marschall snagged two interceptions, along with LaRose (1) and junior Nick Hanscom (1). Senior Rollie Lacy defended three passes, while LaRose and senior Ben VanDenBroeke each defended one.

In the Class AAAA semifinals, the Fire will face Princeton this Friday, Nov. 16 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The game begins at 4:30 p.m.

The Princeton Tigers are 8-4 this season, most recently defeating Detroit Lakes in a 34-31 game that took four overtime periods to resolve. The Tigers are the Section 7AAAA champions.

Fire head coach Dave Hopkins said Holy Family is prepared for Princeton.

“Our team is ready for the game,” he said. “We are looking forward to playing in the Dome.”

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