“That was a great high school football game.”
Those were the first words out of Minnetonka coach Dave Nelson's mouth after Minnetonka's 28-21 victory over Maple Grove.
“I was watching it thinking this is a great game,” continued Nelson. “We made some mistakes; they made some mistakes. There were a lot of great athletes out there. I am proud of our players.”
It was not a pretty game as neither team could hold onto the ball, and both defenses forced fumbles as the offensive player was about to cross the goal line for touchdowns.
Maple Grove (2-1) made the majority of the mistakes in the first half allowing Minnetonka (3-0) to sprint out to a 20-0 lead. Skippers' quarterback Aaron Syverson scored the first of his four total touchdowns (3 passing, 1 rushing) with a short touchdown run midway through the first quarter. The score was set up by a muffed punt by the Crimson setting the Skippers up deep in Crimson territory.
Syverson threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter to help the Skippers out to a 20-0 lead.
“Our pass protection was working well for us,” Skippers guard Michael Galgano said.
Maple Grove was all but out of the game until Curtis Haugen connected with tight end Ben Schroeder for a 27-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes to play in the first half.
“When they scored at the end of the first half it was like okay, this isn't over,” Nelson said.
Down 20-7, Maple Grove received the second half kickoff, and it only took one hand off to Evan Hull to cut the deficit to six points. Hull ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run to put the momentum directly on the visitor's sideline.
Haugen would throw his second touchdown pass in the third quarter to cap off a 21-0 run of points for Maple Grove.
With just under three minutes to play Minnetonka retook the lead. Syverson threw his third touchdown of the day making the score 28-21.
Both defenses came up big in the fourth quarter, but Maple Grove would mount one final drive. The Crimson drove the ball all the way to the 20-yard line but was faced with a fourth and one with a minute to play.
“It was nerve-shattering having to watch it from the sidelines,” Minnetonka offensive tackle Mark Schmitz said. “Our defense was resilient. It was amazing to watch from the sidelines, but I will admit I was very nervous.”
The referees brought out the chains and verified that the Crimson was still alive with a new set of downs. Just three plays later – with thirty seconds to go – the visitors were facing fourth and one again.
When the chain gang came out this time, the Skippers' defense had stood tall and stopped the Crimson on downs – clinching the best game of the 2017 season in Class 6A.