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Good teams always seem to get the big plays when they need it the most.
Facing a third quarter deficit from an improving Eagan team, quarterback George Bjellos and the Woodbury (3-0) offense stepped up with the crucial plays they needed to solidify a 23-14 victory on the road Thursday.
The Wildcats were looking for an upset when they took their first lead of the game 14-10 on a 49-yard touchdown run by quarterback Carson Schwamb less than three minutes into the start of the second half.
But the Royals offense turned it on from there, starting with an 11-yard touchdown reception to Liam Frommelt from Bjellos just three minutes later.
Following a muffed punt by Eagan, Bjellos scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Royals a 9-point lead the defense closed out.
Bjellos finished the game with 256 yards passing, including touchdown receptions from Frommelt and Charlie Jacobson. Five Royals had at least one catch from the second-year starting quarterback.
"We've got a lot of guys, and we do a great job spreading the love to them," Bjellos said after Thursday's win.
Leading just 13-10 at the half, head coach Andy Hill said the team decided to 'turn it loose' with the passing game in the second half. After it paid off, he talked about the work ethic in the offseason from the second-year quarterback and the team's offense.
"George kind of won the locker room as a sophomore," Hill said. "I didn't have to organize that much in the summer. We do our camp, but he throws with them every day. Sometimes twice a day."
The Royals finished with nine wins last season and advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals before losing to eventual runner-up Maple Grove.
Woodbury is undefeated after three games and gained a No. 7 ranking in this week's Associated Press Class 6A state ranking. But the talk was about improvement after Thursday's win.
"We've played pretty good," Bjellos said. "We always can be better. We're just looking one week at a time."
Opposing Eagan is a program exuding optimism after Thursday's loss where they were competitive throughout.
The Wildcats won a combined three games over the previous two seasons heading into this fall. But head coach Nick Johnson praised co-offensive coordinator Chad Gage for coordinating weight room work over the summer. The players were willing to put in the work, which they think will pay off this fall.
"We're the strongest we've been in years," Johnson said. "The guys have bought into that. We're bigger, faster, and stronger than we've been."
It took most of the game’s 48 minutes for quarterback George Bjellos and Woodbury football to finish off a 23-14 victory in a road game with Eagan on Thursday.
The Wildcats (1-2) grabbed a 14-10 lead almost three minutes into the third quarter on a 49-yard touchdown run by quarterback Carson Schwamb. However, the Royals (3-0) made the plays they needed to down the stretch, starting with an 11-yard touchdown reception to Liam Frommelt from Bjellos to retake the lead 17-14.
Bjellos added one final score on a 2-yard touchdown run with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter, using a short field position the Royals gained off a muffed punt by Eagan.
The Royals held on to the nine-point lead to the final whistle, taking over for good after Eagan missed a 37-yard field goal with three minutes left in the game.
Bjellos finished with 253 passing yards and two touchdowns to Charlie Jacobson and Frommelt.
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