Panthers rebound in rout over Blaze
Running game comes alive in second half
After averaging nearly 50 points during its first four games, the Panthers offense slowed in recent weeks.
Prior to defeating Burnsville, Lakeville North was coming off its first loss of the season, 10-6, to Prior Lake when the Panthers had five turnovers. It was the team’s first regular-season loss since 2010.
After the first half against Burnsville, it appeared fans would have a another close game to watch with an even 7-7 score. The wind stifled the passing game for both teams.
“It was a little slow in the first half, but sometimes the elements slow you down,” head coach Brian Vossen said. “Burnsville came ready to play. They’re a well-coached team.”
But after scoring 13 points in the previous six quarters, the Panthers scored 14 in the third quarter against the Blaze and added another touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers had 533 total yards with 400 coming on the ground.
Quarterback Zach Creighton had 174 yards rushing and a touchdown. He also threw for 122 yards. Jamiah Newell gained 139 yards rushing and scored a touchdown.
It was a nice way to rebound after losing to Prior Lake.
“No one really expected it,” Creighton said of the loss. “It shocked us. We were told all week that we could lay down, or come out and fight and be a better team. It was a different team out there tonight. We wore them down and dominated.”
To open the second half, Lakeville North rumbled down the field with a handful of running plays capped off by a 15-yard keeper by Creighton to regain the lead 14-7.
“We saw some things we could exploit,” Creighton said. “We thought we could get some zone blocking done and get the edge with me and Jamiah. All the credit to the offensive line and the receivers. They gave us holes and we just ran through them. They just didn’t give up and played to the whistle.”
Later in the quarter Creighton, who spent most of the second half running the ball, scampered down the field, only to fumble. But fortune favored the Panthers as Alex Wood recovered and ran a few yards to score.
Newell capped the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown run in the final minutes.
“They just realized that passing the ball was so difficult in the wind,” Vossen said. “They really just came back with two run plays and the kids stepped up. We needed to see us run the football after last week.”
The margin of victory might have been larger if not for a fumble in the endzone and a holding call on a long touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but it was an improvement over the team five turnovers against Prior Lake.
“We know that the team that makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins,” Creighton said. “We just have to keep eliminating them as we go forward.”
Entering the game the Panthers were tied with Prior Lake and Apple Valley atop the South Suburban Conference.
Lakeville North closes the regular season with games against one-win Eagan on Friday and Rosemount (3-3) on Wednesday. Both games are at home.
Cougars shut out
Turnovers were a culprit in the loss with the Cougars losing three fumbles and an interception. The Cougars went 2-for-9 on third down and Rosemount’s offense rarely left the field.
It was scoreless at halftime, but Rosemount scored late in the third off a Jackson Erdmann 1-yard run. He tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Sean Kalinowski in the fourth to secure the victory.
Jordan Johnson led the Cougars with 86 yards rushing. Austin Britnell had 60 yards. Ross Curran led the defense with 12 tackles. Tommy Petersen had 10 tackles and a sack.
The loss hurts Lakeville South’s chances at playing a home game in the first round of playoffs, with both Rosemount and Burnsville at 3-3 while the Cougars are 2-4.
The Cougars have two winless teams left on the schedule with a trip to Bloomington Kennedy on Friday and a visit from Bloomington Jefferson on Wednesday.