Lakeville South has been known for years for loading up an explosive offense and scoring points at will.
During a stretch in mid-September, the Cougars were anything but a scoring machine.
Between a 13-0 loss to Edina and the first half of an overtime loss to Apple Valley, Lakeville South had just three points in six quarters of play.
But since then it’s been touchdowns and more touchdowns.
After halftime against Apple Valley and stretching into its victory over Burnsville on Sept. 28, Lakeville South has scored 59 points in six quarters plus one overtime possession.
Burnsville, which entered the Sept. 28 game in the midst of its best start in years with a 3-1 record, fell victim to a 35-10 drubbing as the Cougars found several lanes to rush through. South gained 288 yards on the ground.
Jordan Johnson led the way with 15 carries for 99 yards and three touchdowns. Austin Britnell had 70 yards, Mark Ruhl 54 and Alex Gardner 50.
“It’s nice to get back on track to where we should be,” Johnson said. “(The struggles) have all been on our back. It’s been fumbles and little things and interceptions. We cleaned that up. We knew we had to get our power running going coming into this game. And we got our passing going too, which we really needed. And our offensive line is great. Every touchdown is on them.”
The Cougars are still searching for that every-snap starter at quarterback, but for now the Cougars are splitting time between Brendon Larson-Gulsvig, who threw for 91 yards and a touchdown against Burnsville, and Dylan Lach, who had 44 passing yards and a touchdown.
Tyler Lattery and Ruhl caught the touchdown passes.
“Turnovers have been killing us all year,” head coach Larry Thompson said. “We’re getting a little better, Brendon is back and that helps us a lot. He’s good. He knows the offense. Dylan Lach, he gets it. He runs around and does simple things. We have some great backs in Johnson and Britnell and our offensive line, wow, are they playing well with Harrison Mount, Matt Leidner in there and Travis Soleta.”
Larson-Gulsvig entered the season as a promising sophomore battling with others for the starting spot, but he injured his wrist in the season opener against Lakeville North.
With him out, Lach was moved over from defense to fill in. Thompson said the Cougars might continue to use both at quarterback, depending on the situation.
“We’ll use those two and see who steps in out in front in the next week or two, or we’ll use them both,” Thompson said. “It helps to have some solidification there.”
While the offensive side lost several seniors to graduation last spring and switched its focus to become more of a running team, the points on the scoreboard are about the same. Last season the Cougars averaged 26.5 points per game. After five games in 2012, the team is putting up an average of 27 points.
If there was something that bothered Thompson about the Burnsville game it was giving up 288 yards passing.
“We were a little suspect on pass defense,” Thompson said. “It’s something we have to keep working on. We don’t threaten them a lot during practice.”
Still, the team got sacks from Blake Schmidtke (nine total tackles), A.J. Westrude (seven tackles), Kyle Fatturi (six tackles) and Tommy Petersen (four tackles). Josh Corcoran recovered two fumbles and Fatturi recovered one.
It was an important victory for Lakeville South, which is hoping for a home game in the Section 3-6A playoffs. Prior Lake’s victory on Friday over Lakeville North moved the Lakers to 4-1 overall – the same record as North. But Thompson said he likes his team’s chances in the remaining schedule.
The Cougars will welcome Rosemount, 2-3 overall, for homecoming on Friday.
“We have to keep our heads on and make good decisions,” Johnson said. “We can’t get distracted.”
The team closes out the regular season against winless Bloomington Jefferson and Bloomington Kennedy.
With a 4-0 record, No. 3 ranking in the state and a homecoming crowd offering support, the Lakeville North football team was shocked on Sept. 28, losing to Prior Lake 10-6.
Turnovers were a killer with Prior Lake intercepting four passes and recovering a fumble. The Panthers were averaging 49.3 points per game until last week.
Lakeville North will have the chance to get back into the win column on Friday with a trip to Burnsville. The Blaze played Lakeville North tight last season with North winning 17-14. Two years ago, Burnsville stunned the Panthers 26-3, which was North’s worst loss of the season.