With the top-two ranked teams in the state’s large-school class looking to end the other’s season, mistakes can be magnified.
Such was the case for Lakeville North on Friday.
A miscue deep in its own end resulted in Dominic Heim scoring twice in the second quarter, the Eagles had a lengthy second-half drive for a score, and Eden Prairie beat Lakeville North 21-3 in a Class 6A quarterfinal Friday at Spring Lake Park.
“That’s a good football team. I don’t know what else to say,” said Lakeville North coach Brian Vossen.
Next up for top-ranked Eden Prairie (11-0) is a state semifinal with Lake Conference foe Edina Nov. 17 in U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s a rematch from Week 2 when Eden Prairie beat Edina 36-14.
Lakeville South, which rallied to beat East Ridge 35-34 Friday, meets Centennial in a Thursday Class 6A semifinal.
The Eagles were at their best on a 16-play drive that chewed up more than 10 minutes and culminated in a 3-yard run from Jeremy Frederichs early in the fourth quarter for a game-clinching score. Eden Prairie converted a pair of fourth downs on a drive with zero plays gaining double-digit yardage.
“We kept coming, kept persevering, kept running the ball,” said coach Mike Grant. “Our O-line is really good. They’re really good, and they’re really smart.”
Eden Prairie converted three of its four fourth-down opportunities in the game.
“You can’t ask for a better O-line. It’s easy to play running back when you’re not even touched until you have a linebacker or a safety. Those are tackles I’m expected to break,” said Heim.
The Panthers (9-2) later jumped offsides on a fourth-and-5 with three minutes left to give Eden Prairie another first down.
“It just seemed on both sides of the ball we couldn’t get to a place where we capitalized,” said Vossen. “We stopped them on a couple, then we just ran out of juice.”
On a fourth-and-2 at the Lakeville North 19 midway through the second quarter, Helm went left and untouched to the front corner pylon for a 7-3 lead.
A subsequent three-and-out by Lakeville North got worse when its punter dropped the ball and, while picking it up, touched the turf with his knee.
Heim scored from the 2 four plays later and added a two-point conversion — after the Panthers jumped offsides moving the ball halfway to the goal line — for a 15-3 Eden Prairie lead.
“That’s huge. That’s like game momentum-wise,” Heim said.
Eden Prairie’s offensive line was dominant right away as the Eagles marched down the field on their opening drive, only to be stopped on a fourth-down double handoff at the 2.
On the first play of the second quarter, Sawyer Wilkie gained nine yards on a fourth-and-4 to keep a Lakeville North drive alive. Drew Kolander made a 30-yard field goal one play after Panthers lineman Michael Anderson fell on a fumble to maintain possession.
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