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Lakeville North's Brandon Morgan fielded a first-half kickoff and ran it back 90-yards for a touchdown. Photo: MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE, mlevison@startribune.com

As a head coach who is also in charge of the defense, Brian Vossen enjoys it most when Lakeville North’s muckers and grinders hit hard and make game-changing plays.

On Thursday Vossen finally got to fully appreciate plays on the other side of the ball as well, made against players other than his own.

There were plenty of both for him to marvel.

The Panthers knocked away some early dust in a big way in their season opener on the road, doing away with crosstown rival Lakeville South 47-24.

The Cougars, perhaps extracting some momentum from the pregame presence of paralyzed teammate Dillon Borowicz, struck first on a 51-yard touchdown run by Austin Britnell.
But from there it was all Panthers.

Brandon Morgan hauled in a 34-yard TD from Zach Creighton on the ensuing possession. Isaac Sandberg gave North the lead with a 10-yard rush and Mitch Johnson put an exclamation point on things with a 63-yard interception return for a score.

Even when South seemed to get back into it with an interception return of its own with 3 minutes left before halftime, North spoiled the party.

Morgan returned the kickoff 90 yards to make it 27-14. After a three-and-out by the Cougars, Creighton orchestrated an eight-play, 53-yard scoring drive to round out the first half.

It was more of the same to begin the second half. Greg Menard returned a fumble 30 yards on the second play from scrimmage, and Tanner Jacobus scored on a 91-yard TD run with under 2 minutes remaining.

While North provided most of the on-field highlights, there was much uncertainty before some fans even took their seats.

Sporadic power outages at Lakeville South High School during the afternoon forced the administration to make an unprecedented decision.

In the event the light towers failed to work after dark — as they had earlier in the day — plans called for moving the end of game to the Panthers’ home field about 2 miles away.

About 10 minutes before kickoff, the lights at South turned on and the electricity held.

Last fall, unsafe conditions on the natural grass field forced South’s first game to be played across town.

Thursday’s game stayed in one place. The way the Panthers dominated, it wouldn’t have mattered where.

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