Andrew Larson’s 17-yard touchdown run with 3:42 left in the game Friday gave Eden Prairie its seventh consecutive state tournament berth with a 6-3 home victory over Minnetonka in the Class 5A, Section 6 final.
Larson’s knee wasn’t 100 percent Friday night. Down 3-0 at halftime, coach Mike Grant and the Eagles coaching staff didn’t give up on him.
“We told him to keep going, keep going — he’ll pop one and that might be enough,” Grant said.
In a battle of two stout defenses, each team only managed one scoring play. Coming into the game, the Eagles coaching staff worried about Minnetonka’s offense.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know if we could stop them,” Grant said before the fans stormed the field.
But the Eagles’ top defensive unit has allowed only one touchdown all year. Once the defense got into a rhythm, the Skippers couldn’t muster much. The cold and wind factored into the game for both sides, and Eden Prairie tried to mix it up against its familiar foe. In the end, it came down to Larson.
Some first-half hiccups stymied the Eagles, who threatened multiple times but were denied by an equally impressive Minnetonka defense.
A fumbled punt return recovered by the Skippers gave Minnetonka field position inside Eden Prairie’s 20-yard line. Vinni Lettieri drilled a 32-yard field goal to put the Skippers up 3-0 with five minutes left in the first half.
The Skippers’ ensuing possessions after Larson’s touchdown were halted by Derek Soderberg and Drake Michaelson interceptions. The Eagles managed to eat the clock and advance to the state tournament once again.
“When you play a Minnetonka team in the section final, you don’t care what the score is. You’re just happy to walk away with the win,” Grant said.