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Class 1A semifinal: Minneota races past Rushford-Peterson in battle of unbeatens

By Patrick Johnson, Special to the Star Tribune, 11/20/21, 11:30AM CST


Heading into the game, the two programs had a combined 22 previous state tournament appearances and 10 state titles.


In a clash of Class 1A football powers, second-ranked Minneota flexed its muscle on the way to a 28-8 victory over third-ranked Rushford-Peterson on Saturday, punching a ticket to the Prep Bowl. 

In a battle of undefeated teams at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneota (13-0) asserted its dominance early, amassing 248 total yards and three touchdowns in the first half while holding the Trojans (12-1) to 54 yards and forcing two turnovers. The Vikings took a 21-0 lead into the break.

“Sometimes your best defense is being on offense all the time,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said.  

Minneota’s Connor Sik had 19 carries for 174 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore defensive back Max Rust had two interceptions for the Vikings. 

“It helped today that the defensive line could get to the quarterback and get him to throw balls up like that and make it easier for the DBs,” Rust said. 

Heading into the game, the programs had a combined 22 state tournament appearances and 10 titles. Minneota recently won Class 1A titles in 2009, ’14, ’15 and ’17.

The Vikings have outscored opponents an average of 41-2 this season, with nine shutouts. Before Saturday’s loss, Rushford-Peterson had outscored its opponents 404-94.

“We settled in and defensively played a great game and didn’t give up any big plays until the very, very end,” said Johnston, in his 20th year as Minneota coach. “Offensively I thought we did a great job of nickel-and-diming to keep drives going and getting some big plays to set up some of our scoring. We had things go the way we needed them to. It was a good day for the kids.” 

Sik started the scoring on the Vikings’ second drive. The senior running back raced down the sideline untouched for a 73-yard touchdown run, giving Minneota a 7-0 lead.

Following an interception by Rust, Sik scored again on the Vikings’ next possession — this time with a 3-yard run, barreling over the Trojans defense for a 14-0 lead.

Minneota took a three-score lead with 4:05 remaining in the first half as junior quarterback Isaac Pohlen hit a wide-open Peyton Gillund in the end zone, lofting a pass over the Trojans defense to make it 21-0.

After the half, Sik made it 28-0 with a 6-yard run with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Sik credited his teammates for his big game. 

“They picked me up every time on the big plays on offense and defense,” Sik said. “Our emotions influenced all of us to be stronger.”

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