Three big plays — two offensive and one defensive — in the first half of Friday’s Class 6A state tournament matchup in Fridley gave Shakopee a 14-0 lead over Totino-Grace at halftime, and a ground game that was mostly ineffective in the first half found its way to effectiveness in the fourth quarter for a 21-6 Sabers' win.
“We knew Totino was going to come hard,” Shakopee coach Ray Betton said. “Our schedule during the season prepared us and we played hard.”
After three drives with its offense totaling minus-7 yards to start the game, No. 4 seed Shakopee (5-5) finally broke through to get a first down in the second quarter when Sabers junior quarterback David Bigaouette completed a run that involved dragging several Totino-Grace defenders past the first-down sticks.
“We knew Totino was going to be nails tough,” Betton said. “They were as advertised up front, very physical and disciplined.”
Shakopee’s first touchdown — the first score of the game — came four plays later. Bigaouette completed a 38-yard fade down the sideline where sophomore wideout Nick Katona made a one-handed catch. The next play Bigaouette ran to his right after taking the snap, broke a couple of tackles and scampered into the end zone.
A defensive showdown between No. 1-seed Totino Grace and No. 4-seed Shakopee at Jim Totino Stadium in Fridley was appointment viewing Friday night, and it was the visiting Sabers who emerged with a 21-6 triumph to advance in the Class 6A state tournament.
Shakopee (5-5) struck first, thanks to junior quarterback David Bigaouette who broke free for a 26-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. A strip-sack fumble touchdown on the ensuing Totino-Grace drive gave Shakopee a 14-0 lead going into halftime.
Bigaouette completed two of his six pass attempts for 55 yards and chipped in with 55 yards on the ground as well.
Totino-Grace junior quarterback Kristoff Kowalkowski, who completed 14 of 33 passes for 116 yards, had an 11-yard touchdown run of his own at the end of a lengthy third-quarter drive for the Eagles (7-3). The Totino-Grace offense, however, could never get in synch and Shakopee sophomore quarterback Ben Reiland sealed the Sabers’ win with a 2-yard TD in the fourth quarter.
The Sabers will take on Lakeville North next week with a chance to advance to the state semifinals.
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