Posted On: 10/5/19 5:05 AM
It was a long time coming. It had been eighteen games since the defending 6A champion Lakeville North Panthers had lost a football game. Ten years had passed since the Panthers had lost to their crosstown rival Lakeville South. Both those streaks ended Friday night. The Cougars jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back. Their defense and running game dominated their crosstown rivals and keyed a 34-19 victory.
South took the opening kickoff and only needed six plays – all runs to the left behind tackle Jon Elliott, guard Luke Thompson and tight end Riley Mahlman. The first five picked up two first downs, and the sixth resulted in a 60-yard touchdown run by running back Johnny Shabaz.
“We expected to put up points,” Shabaz said. “The offensive line dominated. I could tell after the first drive. The offensive line opened up a huge gap, and I just ran to daylight – untouched.”
South forced North into two straight punts to start the game. They did a great job keeping North quarterback Raja Nelson contained and forcing him to stay between the tackles. North was winning the field position game until the Panthers tried to pick up a fourth-down near mid-field. Outside linebacker Mark Mosser kept contain and made an open-field tackle for a short gain – giving the ball back to the South offense.
“We just had to contain (Nelson) every play,” Mahlman – who also plays defensive end – explained. “I don’t think we gave up any long plays. It was great to keep him contained all game.”
Working with a short field, South was facing a third and thirteen, but Shabaz picked up a first down on a counter behind Kyle Lattery, Thompson, and Derek Ashland. The success on the run set up the play-action pass. Quarterback Reid Patterson‘s throw to the outside connected with George Brekke, whose touchdown put the Cougars up 14-0.
“The offensive line played great,” Mahlman said. “North has one of the toughest defensive lines in the state. If we can handle them, I think we can do that to almost anyone. We limited our negative plays. We knew our job every play and were quick off the ball and were on them before they could react.”
North would get their offense going midway through the second quarter. After converting on a fourth and short, they faced a third and goal from the four. Running back Logan Freeberg put the home team on the board. A missed extra point would make the score 14-6 South.
14-6 would be the score going into the second half, and it would be as close as the Panthers would get.
Shabaz picked up a third and long behind Lattery and Elliot, but with Shabaz injured later in the drive, the Cougars turned to Hank English on third and nine. English picked up the first down keeping the drive alive. Shabaz returned one play later and finished off the offense’s third touchdown drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
The defending champions responded with a touchdown drive of their own, but South’s offensive line continued to pound away at the North defense. A pair of tough runs by Riley Haglund had the Cougars back in the red zone. Haglund finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.
Up 27-12, South picked off a pass, and Patterson finished off South’s scoring with a 20-yard touchdown run.
North would tack on a late touchdown to make the score 27-19. It took ten years, but Lakeville South finished the job – beating their crosstown rivals and handing Lakeville North their first loss of the season.
“I thought we brought it in all three phases of the game,” Mahlman said. “It was crazy to see us come out on top.”
Lakeville South ran its record to 5-1 and will head home to face Farmington. Lakeville North – also 5-1 – will stay at home to take on White Bear Lake.