The football team nearly blew a 21-point lead Friday night, but held on for the win when a Chanhassen field goal attempt sailed wide as time expired.
The Stars improve to 4-0 with the victory, while the hard-luck Storm have now lost their first three Missota Conference games by a total of seven points and fall to 0-4 on the season.
“Thats not an 0-4 team,” Holy Angels coach Ray Betton said after his team pulled out the victory.
Clinging to a 35-33 lead with time running down, Holy Angels ran three straight running plays and managed to burn all but seven seconds before having to punt.
But then disaster struck. Chanhassen's Matt Malek-Zadegan broke through and blocked the punt, then recovered the loose ball at the Holy Angels 28.
With 1.9 seconds left, the Storm lined up for a potential game-winning 45-yard field goal. But Maverick Edmunds' kick, while long enough, missed wide left as the clock expired.
“That was incredible. We knew coming in it was going to be tough," Betton said. "[Even after building a lead] we knew in the back of our heads that they are a good team. They've got good players and they execute well.”
The Stars scored on their first three possessions to go up 21-0 less than nine minutes into the contest, with two of the touchdowns coming on long scoring plays. Sam Keis hit Michael Price for a 63-yard score, and Anthony Baysah galloped 49 yards for another touchdown to make it 21-0 at 3:01 of the first quarter.
But Chanhassen got on the board with a defensive touchdown—Sam Grausam recovered a fumbled handoff attempt in the end zone with 4:08 left in the first half—and only trailed 28-13 at halftime.
And where Holy Angels had racked up 318 yards of offense in the first half—160 on the ground and 158 through the air—real estate was a little tougher to come by for the Stars in the second half.
“It became a cat and mouse game in the second half,” Betton said. “They adjusted and they were able to put pressure on our running game.”
The Storm also did a much better job of tackling in the second half. Price had used some fancy footwork to turn two short passes into 63- and 66-yard first-half touchdowns, but the Stars only had one play—a 34-yard run with just over four minutes left in the game—go for more than 30 yards in the second half.
“It makes my job easy,” junior quarterback Keis said of being surrounded by playmakers on offense. “I just get the ball into their hands and they make me look good.”
Keis was limited to 35 yards passing in the second half, but still finished the game 7-for-11 for 193 yards. Baysah, who rushed for 107 yards on nine carries in the first half, was held to 11 yards on four carries in the second half. Price finished with 137 receiving yards and two touchdowns on just three catches.
“This is where we wanted to be,” Price said of the team's 4-0 start. “We worked hard all summer for this.”
The Storm got to within 28-19 on quarterback Ryan McGuire's 1-yard sneak with 8:29 left. After Will Pagel scored on a 34-yard run on a counter play to make it 35-19, the Storm struck again, this time on a 43-yard run by Edmunds. The two-point conversion—a pass from McGuire to Nathan Holasek—was good to make it a one-possession game with 9:36 left.
Two plays later, Edmunds jumped the route on a short pass attempt by Keis and returned an interception 19 yards for a score. But the two-point conversion pass attempt was knocked down by Price at the goal line, keeping the Stars in front 35-33 with 8:49 left.
The Stars managed to eat up some clock with their ensuing possession, but punted the ball back to the Storm with 3:59 left. Chanhassen's drive stalled at the Holy Angels 37, and the Storm turned the ball over on downs with 1:06 left.
The Stars gained just five yards on three straight running plays, forcing the Storm to burn their last two time outs and taking the clock under 10 seconds.
The Stars (4-0 overall, 3-0 Missota Conference) host Farmington for homecoming Friday, with a showdown with Shakopee, the Missota's only other remaining unbeaten team, in two weeks.
“We can't look ahead,” Betton said. “We've got to take care of business week by week.”