St. Paul Johnson plays with a short memory even as it continues to build lifelong moments to remember.
The Governors played in their first state tournament since 1981 on Thursday at Park Center High School, and they created another experience they won’t soon forget with a come-from-behind 24-22 Class AAAA quarterfinal victory over St. Anthony Village.
Not only does St. Paul Johnson (7-4) have a short memory, the Governors also have a pair of Mobergs on the field who can create some big plays that will serve as nightmares for opponents.
Sophomore quarterback Joey Moberg hooked up with his brother Luke Moberg for two touchdowns and a 54-yard pass play that set up another touchdown as part of a rally from a 22-point deficit. It’s pretty nice having your big brother on the receiving end of your passes.
“Most of the time I just throw it up,” Joey said. “The second one that he didn’t score on, I threw it up. I had pressure. I trusted him and he made the play. It’s great, whenever I’m in trouble I just heave it up and he makes the play.”
Joey Moberg found Luke for a 45-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the first half to end an otherwise disastrous opening half on a positive note. Coming out of the break St. Paul Johnson continued to chip away at the lead and climbed to within six points when Daimarion Nelson ran in from two-yards out with two seconds left in the third quarter.
After each touchdown the Governors converted two-point tries.
St. Paul Johnson completed the comeback when Joey Moberg completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Luke on fourth down.
“Everything we do is we take it one play at a time,” said Governors head coach and father of Joey and Luke, Eric Moberg. “We turnover the ball, you put it behind you. They turn over the ball, you put it behind you. It’s one play. I think that’s been our strength all year. We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low. We just say one play, one play.”
That next play mentality seemed to help in the second half, but it helped the Governors put the first half behind them quicker, too.
St. Anthony Village (8-3) scored on St. Paul Johnson’s first possession after the Governors mishandled a punt in the end zone and the Huskies’ Johnathan Kieren recovered the ball in the end zone. A two-point conversion gave them an 8-0 lead.
Kieren scored two more times in the first half on rushing touchdowns. His second came early in the second quarter on a 25-yard run to make it 16-0 after another two-point conversion.
Kieren extended the lead after a 14-yard touchdown run but his rushing attempt on the two-point try failed to keep the lead at 22.
The snowy conditions predictably produced ball security issues for both teams but the Governors committed their only turnover in the first half. St. Anthony Village had four turnovers in the game, two of which led to touchdowns for St. Paul Johnson.
“I thought the whole first half we waited for the game to come to us,” Eric Moberg said. “The second half we actually brought the game. That was the difference.”
The Governors get to face the winner of Hermantown-Willmar next Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium at 4:30 p.m.