Turnovers turn games.
Two weeks ago, the Eden Prairie High School football team fell 17-7 to a Wayzata team that never turned the ball over.
On Friday, Eden Prairie lost 21-14 to a zero-turnover Edina team.
“Over the last two weeks, teams have put the ball on the ground eight times,” said Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant, “and they’ve recovered every one of them.”
That’s not good.
“If we recover Edina’s bobbled punt return, we go up 21-7 and probably win the game,” added Grant.
It didn’t happen.
Eden Prairie scored first in Friday’s game at Edina, counting a 64-yard run by Johnny Hartle.
Edina answered with a Jonathan Bunce 27-yard run.
Note: The ball was fumbled at the one and recovered by Bunce in the end zone.
Eden Prairie went ahead 14-7 with three minutes remaining in the first half on a Fred Zach 1-yard plunge.
Eden Prairie opened the second half by driving to the Edina 16-yard line.
“We took a holding penalty and then got called for a blindside block,” said Grant. “The block should have never been called. Our guy was leading with his hands, just as he’s supposed to.
“You can holding on every play,” added Grant.
The penalties took Eden Prairie out of scoring position.
Bunce knotted the game at 14-14 with a 1-yard run with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
He scored what turned into the game-winning touchdown on a three-yard run with 3:33 remaining.
“He (Jonathan Bunce) played both ways the whole game.” said Grant. “He was their leading tackler and leading rusher.”
Like Wayzata the week before, Edina’s offense beat Eden Prairie’s defense with short gains.
“Two, three and four yards at a time,” said Grant.
That can be done when you don’t turn the ball over.
“Second-half penalties were 7-0,” said Grant. “One holding call makes them throw and that changes things.”
That one call never happened.
Bunce led Edina’s run attack with 18 carries for 125 yards. He would also score three touchdowns.
Hartle led Eden Prairie with 22 carries for 154 yards and one touchdown.
Edina ran for 205 yards, Eden Prairie 200.
Jack Hedlund completed 6-9 passes for 81 yards. Edina’s George Sandven completed 11-15 passes for 118 yards.
The loss dropped Eden Prairie’s overall record to 4-2. The win lifted Edina to 2-4.
“We’re close,” said Grant. “We hit that long pass and it’s 21-7. It’s the same for the ball we ripped out. If we recover, we probably score.”
Instead, the runner was ruled down.
“We can’t panic,” said Grant. “We just need to make one more play.
“At the same time, we’re not a dominating team,” he added. “We’re young and we’re learning how to play in close games.”
Eventually, Eden Prairie’s youth is going to have to figure it out.
“If we can win our last two, we should get a No. 2 seed,” said Grant, “and that would be a good spot going into the playoffs.”
On Friday, Eden Prairie hosts a 3-3 Prior Lake team.
Next Wednesday, Eden Prairie ends regular season play with an away game at 5-1 Saint Michael-Albertville.