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Eden Prairie overpowers Blaine in Class 6A

November 16, 2018

Eden Prairie, Minnesota high school football’s anaconda, found its latest victim in Blaine.

The defending state champion Eagles ousted previously undefeated Blaine 34-14 in the Class 6A semifinal Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Nic Krueger ran for two touchdowns, including a 43-yard dash that resulted in a 14-0 lead in the third quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff the Eagles recovered a squib kick at Blaine’s 28-yard line and the offense made the gift count. Collin Penn capped a five-play drive by going wide right on fourth-and-8 and beating a Blaine defender around the end.

“He can throw it, too,” Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant said. “He had the option to pass. But Collin is fast enough that he just legged it.”

Ahead 20-0, Eden Prairie began coiling around its prey.

“They’re Eden Prairie,” Blaine coach Ben Geisler said. “They’re a ball-control offense and they keep the clock moving. That’s their game plan, to get up on you and squeeze the life out of you.”

Eden Prairie (10-1) heads to its 14th Prep Bowl next week seeking its 12th title. The Eagles face the winner of Friday’s semifinal game featuring top-ranked Lakeville North and surprising Lakeville South.

For Blaine (11-1), three first-half turnovers inside Eden Prairie’s 20-yard line proved costly. “You can’t turn the ball over three times in the red zone,” Geisler said.

Quarterback Jack Haring threw two interceptions, and the Bengals also lost a fumble on the first play following an Eden Prairie fumble. Brandon Wittig took a reception to the Eagles 19 but had the ball knocked loose.

“They’re a well-coached team and very physical,” Haring said.

Grant saw one aspect of his team’s game plan foiled. The Eagles punted and kicked away from Tony Strand, except for once early in the fourth quarter.

“It was fear of No. 34,” Grant said.

Those fears were realized as Strand returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown and cut Blaine’s deficit to 20-7. But Eden Prairie responded with a nine-play, 74-yard touchdown drive to regain control.

“Our kids did a good job of running the clock and grinding,” Grant said. “I think our offensive line wore them down a bit.”

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