Taking possession at their own 48-yard line, 2:35 on the clock, a six-point lead, one touchdown would have been nice, but three scores, that changed the entire direction of Chanhassen's 26-6 win over Orono on Sept. 24 for Homecoming.
Three scores over the final 1:53 of the first half capped a 26-point second quarter for the Storm, which improved to 3-1 on the season.
Chanhassen head coach Cullen Nelson, in his post-game comments to the team, said it was that moment where the game changed and where the Storm began to put away a good Orono squad.
"You can't dwell on the past. We had that tough loss to Chaska and now we've come back with two good performances, beat two good teams. You have to move on each week. Come out be focused for the next team," Chanhassen senior linebacker Alex Carstens said.
Driving 52 yards on three plays, a catch-and-run from Josh Och of over 30 yards, set-up the first of two touchdowns from Josh Kirchoff. His 10-yard rush off the edge on a draw play doubled the advantage to 12-0.
Chanhassen 12, Orono 0— Eric Kraushar (@ChanChaskaSport) September 25, 2021
52 yard drive on 3 plays
Josh Kirchoff 10 yard run
Grant Muffenbier hit Josh Och, who turned up field for a 30 yard gain. Och left the game with an ankle injury
Chanhassen already keeping WR Charlie Coenen on sideline not playing pic.twitter.com/5xH1tnW6DU
Following a one play drive for Orono, a hit and tackle from Storm linebacker John Dahl resulting in a fumble, recovered by Bode Nyen, Chanhassen needed just one play themselves, a 24-yard pass from Grant Muffenbier to Kirchoff. The extra point made it 19-0.
"We have great corners and safeties, so that helps us out a lot at linebacker and (defensive) line. With their great coverage, it gives us time to rush the quarterback, be in a position to make plays like we did tonight," Chanhassen senior Alex Carstens said.
Gabe Porthan's interception over the middle, returning it to the 10-yard line, led to a touchdown run of five yards from Maxwell Woods, and a score of 26-0.
"Our defense stopped them a bunch, got us the ball in good spots, and I was lucky to be able to find the end zone a couple of times. It felt pretty amazing," Kirchoff said.
Chanhassen, by the second half, was searching for offensive players. Charlie Coenen, while suited, played on just one snap. An ankle injury forced Och to the sideline in the second quarter. Tyrigue Williams and Kirchoff had intermittent leg cramps, and senior running back Brady Grandstaff, who scored the first touchdown, was carted off with a broken leg.
The Storm, which have yet to score offensively in the second half in all four games, 63 of the team's 65 total points coming in the first two quarters, were just hoping to get through the game without any more lost bodies.
The second-half offensive struggles is something Nelson also addressed with the team after the game, and something the team will continue to work on going forward over the final four games.
"Every week the chemistry gets better and better with our offense. I feel like we still have a lot left to show. We'll be even better next time," Kirchoff said.
On the flip side, it was another stellar defensive performance for the Storm, which have allowed seven or fewer points in all four games.
Orono's third-quarter score, a Charlie Knaus throw to Hunter Fox, the receiver creating separation with a two-handed push-off of the Chanhassen defensive back, was the only blemish in the game.
Chanhassen continued to be stout against the run, allowing an average of two yards per carry led by interior linemen Dominic Castagnetto and Gabriel Lindsay-Wartnick, who combined for 12 tackles.
The Storm held Orono to 9-of-24 passing for 126 yards. Chanhassen's front-four provided pressure on the quarterback often, including a fourth-down sack from Carstens that contributed to the opening Storm score from Grandstaff of five yards.
Dahl, Lindsay-Wartnick and Sam Macy each were credited with a sack as well, while Carstens and safety Dylan Kendrick added six tackles each.
"Our team isn't a huge blitzing team. I fall back into coverage quite often, but today when we saw the quarterback roll out it was my job to rush the quarterback, make sure he didn't have any time to set his feet and throw," said Carstens, who at least twice took on the block, got through and put the quarterback on the ground, once for a sack.
Muffenbier, who was picked off at the goal line on the opening drive, finished the game with seven completions for 161 yards. Och hauled in four catches for 95 yards in limited duty, while Kirchoff had two receptions for 53 yards.
Jayden Talamantes and Woods, in relief of Grandstaff, led Chanhassen with 40 and 38 yards.
Chanhassen's tough stretch, which started with No. 7 Chaska and then-No. 4 Spring Lake Park, continues with Robbinsdale Armstrong (3-1) on Friday, Oct. 1 at Storm Stadium.
The Falcons own victories over Waconia, Irondale and Bloomington Jefferson with a loss to Robbinsdale Cooper in week three. Quarterback Jamen Malone is a dual threat, having already thrown for more than 850 yards, and rushing for another 171 yards.
Peyton Newbern (six touchdowns) at receiver and Reggie Carter (team-high 265 rushing yards, three touchdowns) are other offensive weapons for Robbinsdale Armstrong.
"We have all the trust in our coaches to prepare us for every team we play. We're going to go out there, work hard, and be ready for next week," Kirchoff said.