Two minutes, two seconds left on the clock, trailing by seven points, Cullen Nelson rallied the Chanhassen offense. "We're going to march down, score, go for two, and celebrate."
A final drive that spanned 55 yards, reaching the Benilde-St. Margaret 20 with 56 seconds left, it felt like the Chanhassen head coach may get his wish to go for the win.
A false start penalty, two shorts completions and a pass drop forced a fourth down throw into the end zone, an interception from Red Knights' Derric Standifer clinched the third win of the season for No. 3-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret, 14-7 on Sept. 13.
Football Final— Eric Kraushar (@ChanChaskaSport) September 14, 2019
Benilde-St. Margaret 14,
Chanhassen 7 pic.twitter.com/kqSJVh2XYU
"Look at any level, when they install a new offense, have a bunch of new starters, it takes times," Nelson said. "I know the scoreboard doesn't reflect it, but we took a big step with our offense tonight. Twenty-three seconds left, the ball on their 20, a chance to score, go for two and then win, we gave ourselves a chance tonight and I'm happy with that."
Following a first-down throw to Landan Smith, quarterback Jack Schaefer found Smith again, a gain of more than 30 yards into Red Knight territory. Two Schaefer runs, including a fourth-down pick-up, moved the ball into the red zone.
After sliding back to the 23, Chanhassen was unable to move the ball much farther, the final drive coming up short.
In a defensive battle, it was Benilde-St. Margaret that put together one more drive, made one more play.
A fourth-quarter drive was capped by a 12-yard touchdown run from Joe Marinaro with 5:37 left. Marinaro entered the backfield due to an injury to Kamden Royal on a kick-off earlier in the half.
Benilde-St. Margaret touchdown. Mariano from 12 yards out. Red Knights grab 13-7 lead, 5:37 left.— Eric Kraushar (@ChanChaskaSport) September 14, 2019
Kick pending. 2 Storm players down pic.twitter.com/ni5WyW2Kqv
Marinaro barrelled through the line of scrimmage multiple times in the second half, accounting for 52 yards on the ground. He also had a game-high 11 tackles with two sacks.
The eventual winning drive included a first down on a horsecollar penalty on Chanhassen, a 33-yard pass from on 2nd-and-28 from Nick Peterson to Charlie Hansen, and a pass interference call that moved the ball into the Storm's red zone.
Despite the late score, it was another stellar performance from the Storm defense, holding a Benilde-St. Margaret that entered averaging 40 points per game to two scores.
"We knew we had to stop the run first and then try and contain the explosive pass stuff. We just couldn't come up with a couple of those plays. Those 50-50 balls. Got them stop stopped, and a penalty is called. Those things are going to happen and we just have to keep getting better," Nelson said.
Just a handful of first downs combined between the two teams near halftime, Benilde-St. Margaret scored the only touchdown of the opening two quarters late.
Just plays after the clock was stopped on a tackle inbounds, Peterson hit Zach Swenson for a 13-yard score, just 16.5 ticks left. A 27-yard catch on the ensuing play after the referee error, giving the Red Knights essentially another timeout to sort out what happened, set-up the drive.
Benilde-St. Margaret on board with 16.5 seconds left. Peterson to Peterson— Eric Kraushar (@ChanChaskaSport) September 14, 2019
Halftime: BSM 7, Chanhassen 0 pic.twitter.com/oVHISY5zV6
Chanhassen tied the game in the third quarter, getting the ball near midfield on a Jackson Lakosky hit and forced fumble, recovery from Cooper Hanson.
A 31-yard pass from Schaefer to Kenyatta Brannon had Chanhassen in business until two short runs and an incomplete pass inside the 10 forced the Storm to kick the field goal. The miss was wide left, but an unsportsmanlike penalty, the second of the drive, gave Chanhassen a new set of downs.
Rolando Alvarez, who finished with a team-high 47 yards rushing, found the end zone from six yards out, an Eli Mau extra point tying the game at seven.
Chanhassen 7, Benilde-St. Margaret 7— Eric Kraushar (@ChanChaskaSport) September 14, 2019
Rolando Alvarez 5 yard TD
Storm missed FG, but second personal foul, running into the kicker, gave Chanhassen new set of downs pic.twitter.com/RWTMzZcx3o
Schaefer was 9-of-17 for 112 yards with Smith catching three balls for 62 yards. Chanhassen, held to five yards rushing in week two, finished with 59 yards on 30 carries in the loss.
Peterson was 13-of-17 for Benilde-St. Margaret through the air with 164 yards. Swenson made five catches for 75 yards.
Chanhassen is now 1-2 overall, having played against its toughest two-game stretch of the season with Chaska and Benilde-St. Margaret.
"The reality is we played the last two weeks two teams that have a chance to be play inside at U.S. Bank Stadium. I thought our kids competed hard on offense, moved the chains, controlled the clock a bit, kept their two-way guys on the field a bunch. All that is huge going forward," Nelson said.
The Storm play Hopkins, a 14-6 winner over Forest Lake in week three, for Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 20.