Champlin Park quarterback Jaice Miller (4) ran over Rosemount defender Sean Appold (23) for a second-quarter touchdown that gave the Rebels a 13-7 halftime lead. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Champlin Park quarterback Jaice Miller woke up Thursday morning to a text from his coach, Nick Keenan.
“I told him ‘We’re putting the ball in your hands. I know you’re going to do great. Now, let’s go out and play,’ ” Keenan said.
And play Miller did. The senior had his best game of the season, rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more to lift the Rebels to a surprisingly one-sided 34-7 rout of Rosemount in the Class 6A quarterfinal at Park Center High School.
Rosemount kick returner Jonathan Mann (1) broke free of the attempted tackle of Champlin Park’s Hayden Sanders (42) in the fourth quarter. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
On paper it was supposed to be a tossup. On the field, it was anything but.
Champlin Park had its way with Rosemount, moving the ball with ease and limiting Irish star receiver Jonathan Mann to an insignificant handful of touches en route to a convincing 34-7 victory.
Rosemount went into the game with a four-game winning streak, including a thrilling 18-17 victory that knocked Eden Prairie out of the playoffs last week.
Champlin Park, on the other hand, was missing bellcow running back Shawn Shipman, who was injured in the Rebels' 16-7 victory over Prior Lake in the second round.
But Champlin Park controlled play from the outset. After the teams traded turnovers on their opening drives, the Rebels struck first.
Quarterback Jaice Miller capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive when he followed a crushing block by running back Darius Givance and scooted up the middle for an 11-yard score. A bobbled snap resulted in a failed extra point and the Rebels led 6-0.
Rosemount showed one of its few signs of fight two possessions later early in the second quarter. On fourth-and-1 call, Christian Graske took a toss sweep around right end and slipped through the Champlin Park defense for a 24-yard score and a 7-6 lead.
That lead was short-lived. The Rebels took the ensuing kickoff and put together the most impressive drive of the first half. They drove 67 yards in eight plays, picking up yards in significant chunks on nearly every play. Miller put the finishing touches on the drive with a 4-yard quarterback draw, again following a key block by Givance.
The Rebels led 13-7 at halftime after having controlled play for most of the half.
Things snowballed on Rosemount in the third quarter. Champlin Park took the kickoff and embarked on a 13-play, 79-yard drive that took 6:49 and ended with an 18-yard screen pass for a touchdown by Givance.
Rosemount was intercepted three plays later and Champlin Park quickly turned it into points on Miller’s third touchdown, this time from 25 yards out.
The Rebels capped the scoring early in the fourth quarter when Miller hit Brock Johnson for a 24-yard touchdown on third-and-18, making the score 34-7.
Rosemount finished the season 7-4. Champlin Park improved to 9-1 and will play Lakeville North in the Class 6A semifinals next Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Check back later for more on the game.