By Matthew Davis
Maple Grove’s defense prevailed in another physical football contest with Prior Lake.
“It was a great win,” Crimson coach Matt Lombardi said. “We respect Prior Lake a great deal. They got great staff; they’re very hard-nosed.”
In recent years the Crimson have pulled out wins tight wins against the Lakers by a point once and three points twice. Their Sept. 8 meeting this season turned out no different in the Crimson’s 9-6 victory.
“They always give us a very tough game,” Lombardi said.
Maple Grove’s defense backed Prior Lake into its end zone for a safety just 1:14 into the game. The Crimson went up 9-0 in the second quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by running back Evan Hull with 10:19 left in the half. Besides that drive, the Crimson saw its other offensive possessions in the half stall.
“I thought we played exceptionally well defensively, and I thought we left a lot of points on the board,” Lombardi said.
Maple Grove didn’t score again in the second half, but the defense didn’t let the Lakers do anything either. It took until 3:58 remained in the game when Lakers quarterback Ryan Schipper found Tanner Wermerskirchen for a14-yard TD pass.
“In the fourth quarter, we got a little bit fatigued, and they ran right at us,” Lombardi said.
Raymon helped seal the game with a 34-yard kick-off return. The Crimson offense then held off the Lakers with a couple of first downs.
“In the end, we were hanging on for dear life, but we found a way to win,” Lombardi said. “The offense did a great job in the last four minutes. They got the ball and ran out the clock.”
Crimson quarterback Curtis Haugen finished 3-14 passing with 32 yards and an interception, but Lombardi saw positives in his performance. Haugen also pitched in on defense with two tackles.
“He’s getting better every week,” Lombardi said. “He ended up playing defense a little in the fourth quarter too. We asked him to do lot [and] gave us a chance to win.”
Hull carried the bulk of the offensive load with 139 yards rushing on 30 carries for a 4.6-yard average. Raymon chipped in 15 yards in four attempts.
Jake Kampsula led Crimson receivers with a catch for 11 yards. Liam Arbeiter and Ben Schroeder both had 8-yard grabs.
Adam Skogman led Maple Grove’s defense with 11 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Jack Hanson garnered eight tackles and forced a fumble.
Liam Arbeiter also caused a fumble in addition to his three tackles. Ben Bristol had one of the team’s three sacks, and he had four tackles.
Gavin Pelto helped the defense with eight tackles, and Ben Paschke had seven. Justin Stolp posted six tackles, and Jake Kampsula added five.
In a defensive battle where neither offense had its way, Crimson kicker and punter Andy Peterson stepped up. He booted five punts for an average of 38.2 yards in addition to hitting 1-1 on extra points.
Maple Grove gets another big test 7 p.m. Friday at Minnetonka (2-0), which downed Wayzata 21-6 last week.
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