Daylen Cummings made sure Centennial will play for a state title for the first time since 1984.
The senior quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another to lift his team past Lakeville South 20-13 in a Class 6A state semifinal matchup that pitted Cougars vs. Cougars Thursday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Centennial (11-1) advances to meet the winner of Friday night’s other semifinal between Edina (8-3) and Eden Prairie (11-0) in the Class 6A championship game at 7 p.m. Nov. 24 at U.S. Bank Stadium. It marks the program’s first trip to a state title game since falling to Hutchinson 32-7 in the Class A championship matchup in 1984.
Lakevillle South — which won a state title in 2021 — finished its season 10-2 overall.
Junior running back Connor Cade got his team going on the first play of Lakeville South’s second possession, rumbling 45 yards up the middle for a touchdown that established an early 7-0 lead. Centennial then got a huge break when a botched snap on a punt meant it took over at the Lakeville South 18.
But the offense could not pick up a first down, and a 32-yard field-goal attempt was no good. Centennial then reached the Lakeville South 19 early in the second quarter, but turned the ball over on downs.
Centennial finally got on the board on an 8-yard touchdown run by Cummings with 2:54 to play in the first half, but a bad snap on the extra point kept Lakeville South on top 7-6.
Cummings and company had a chance to take the lead when they drove the ball all the way to the Lakeville South 1 with 14 seconds remaining before halftime. But Cummings was sacked for a loss of 14 by sophomore defensive lineman Josh Bergan and time expired, keeping Lakeville South ahead by one at the break.
Centennial finally pulled in front for the first time when Cummings scored on a 2-yard run with 4:36 left to play in the third quarter that made the score 12-7. But Lakeville South answered right back, scoring on a 35-yard run by senior Jonah Shine with 10:53 remaining in the fourth to retake the lead at 13-12.
Yet Cummings quickly put his team back on top, connecting with senior Josh Lee on a 69-yard touchdown pass, then completing a pass for the two-point conversion that put his team on top 20-13 with 8:00 to play.
Centennial had kept that drive alive on a 2-yard run on fourth-and-1 at its own 29 two plays before. And — after his team forced a Lakeville South punt on the next possession — head coach Mike Diggins elected to gamble again, going for it on fourth-and-1 at the Centennial 40.
Senior Marcus Whiting carried for a gain of 1 to keep the drive alive, then Cummings connected with junior Henrik Hiltner for a first down on fourth-and-4 at the Lakeville South 32 and Centennial was able to run out the clock.
High school football state semifinals roundup: Rocori edges Byron in 4A slugfest, 9-player final set
High school football: Friday state semifinal predictions
High school football: For St. Thomas Academy, less has led to more
High school football: Thursday state semifinal predictions
State football: Mahtomedi puts scare in No. 1 Chanhassen but falls late