Lakeville North senior running back Brian Curtis Jr. is met at the line of scrimmage late in the first half by a group of Maple Grove defenders, including Anthony Gipson (7) and Aaron Tollefson (11). Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Lakeville North lineman Bryce Benhart, a 6-foot-9, 305-pound senior, is a big reason why the unbeaten Panthers are averaging nearly 300 yards per game on the ground. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
Turnovers fuel upsets. Composure squashes would-be usurpers.
On Friday night, Lakeville North made mistakes, but kept cool behind a running game that eventually found its groove, which kept the Panthers alive in the Class 6A state tournament.
It took a couple big plays and a final defensive stand, but Lakeville North (10-0), a No. 1 seed, quelled a gritty effort from No. 4 seed Maple Grove (4-6) to win 21-13 and move to the state quarterfinals. The Panthers turned the ball over twice in the red zone and once inside their own 20 — but they also found traction in the run game in the second half after the Crimson’s game plan on defense proved effective.
It wasn’t easy, but Lakeville North survived.
Lakeville North, a No. 1 seed in the Class 6A state tournament, got all it could handle against No. 4 seed Maple Grove in a 21-13 home win Friday.
After the Panthers (10-0) took a 14-7 lead on a 36-yard run by RaJa Nelson with seven minutes to play in the third quarter, Maple Grove (4-6) responded with a 48-yard touchdown from Nate Elmes to Colby Aubut on a play-action pass with 6:50 to go in the fourth. The Panthers blocked the extra point, keeping it to a 14-13 game.
The Panthers’ first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive was a 65-yard touchdown run by Brian Curtis Jr. Lakeville North went up 21-13 to give Lakeville North a 21-13 lead.
The Crimson struck first after a shaky Panthers start. Lakeville North fumbled the opening kickoff, giving Maple Grove the ball at the Panther 19-yard line. Quarterback Spencer Wherry connected with Tanner Skanson for a 22-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Crimson lead.
Both teams turned the ball over three times. Maple Grove’s Evan Hull had 26 carries for 83 yards. Lakeville North’s Martin had 35 carries for 199 yards, while Nelson added 20 rushes for 126 yards for two touchdowns.
Maple Grove running back Evan Hull had 26 carries for 83 yards in the Crimson's 21-13 loss at Lakeville North Friday night. Photo by Drew Herron, SportsEngine
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