Defensive lineman Trent Jones recovered a fumble in midair and rumbled 52 yards the other way for six points, Fred Zach scored three first-half touchdowns, backup kicker Jackson Burke nailed his first-ever varsity punt and coach Mike Grant counted his 300th Eden Prairie win (Grant had recorded 45 wins at Forest Lake before coming to Eden Prairie).
So yeah, Thursday’s 41-0 season-opening victory at Roseville was kind of fun.
After winning the toss, Eden Prairie opted to kick off. The Raiders had some success running the ball before trying a pass. During their pass attempt, they were flagged for holding.
In high school football, the 10-yard penalty is assessed from the spot of the foul. A sack would follow and then a pass for a loss.
What had started as a promising drive went backwards, literally. On third-and-48 (yes, you read that correctly), Roseville ran a safe play to give itself room to punt.
Roseville would punt the ball out of bounds on its own 17-yard line.
If this wasn’t the beginning of their end, it was close.
Eden Prairie scored a few plays later.
The Eagles’ defense forced a quick punt on Roseville’s second possession, and Eden Prairie (Fred Zach) scored on another short field.
Its third score, another Zach touchdown, was set up by a Michael Tomsche interception.
The first half ended with Eden Prairie leading 21-0.
Note: the Eagles' three first-half scoring drives combined to travel less than 100 yards.
While it wasn’t a perfect first half, it was beginning-of-the-season impressive.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant “Our backs ran hard and our O-line did a good job against a defense that played nine guys in the box.”
Eden Prairie committed but a few penalties, didn’t turn the ball over and controlled the clock. Its one negative was not converting on fourth-and-short from the Roseville 5-yard line.
Sam Thomas capped a three-minute drive to open the third quarter with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Jones raided the Raiders next possession, punching a bobbled ball loose, recovering the fumble in midair, and then rumbling 52 yards for the score.
With 1:08 remaining in the third quarter, Cheo Trotter, a defensive lineman testing his wheels at running back, ended the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run.
Running time consumed the fourth quarter. Final score: Eden Prairie 41, Roseville 0.
As a team, Eden Prairie rushed 41 times for 192 yards (4.7 yards per carry average). Thomas counted 10 carries for 65 yards, Hartle 10 carries for 61 yards.
Roseville rushed 26 times for 93 yards.
Like always, coach Grant addressed his Eagles following the game.
After applauding his team’s effort and poise, he looked directly at Young.
“A D-line touchdown,” he said, “when was the last time that happened?”
Young and his teammates cheered.
“In honor of a D-line touchdown,” Grant added, “the D-line can carry the equipment to the bus.”
Young’s teammates cheered louder.
So yeah, Thursday’s 41-0 season-opening win at Roseville was kind of fun.
Eden Prairie returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. when it hosts Woodbury in its home opener.