“You shouldn’t have to use a fake punt to generate offense,” said Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant, following Friday’s 17-7 loss to No. 3-ranked Wayzata.
Eden Prairie shouldn’t, but it did.
Said fake punt, followed by a spectacular catch by Cade Kramer, led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Johnny Hartle.
The third-quarter score pulled the No. 2-ranked Eagles to within seven points of the hard-charging Trojans.
What’s more, the score pushed Eden Prairie’s Homecoming crowd to the edge of their seats.
“That play (fake punt) flipped the momentum,” said Grant.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Eden Prairie’s defense would force a Wayzata punt.
Eden Prairie would get the ball back trailing by seven, right?
Eden Prairie fumbled the punt return and Wayzata recovered on the Eagles’ 15-yard line.
Four plays later, Wayzata kicked a 25-yard field goal.
The kick extended Wayzata’s lead to 10 points. The clock showed 5:22 remaining.
Eden Prairie got as far as the Wayzata 27 before turning the ball over on downs. Its last four passes either fell incomplete or were knocked away inside the Wayzata 5-yard line.
When Wayzata got the ball back, it would run one play before time expired.
Eden Prairie received the game’s opening kickoff and went backwards.
Its punt into the wind gave Wayzata the ball at the Eden Prairie 38-yard line.
A few plays later, Wayzata’s Thomas Schmidt hit Daeshawn Bush for a 10-yard score.
And just like that, Wayzata led 7-0.
The Trojans’ second scoring drive, resulting in a Christian Vassar 8-yard touchdown run, consumed 75 yards and lots of clock.
When Eden Prairie got the ball back after Wayzata’s second touchdown, it ran one play before the first half expired.
If you don’t count that one play, Eden Prairie’s offense had two first-half possessions.
That’s not enough.
“We need more offense and better execution,” said Grant. “We’ll get seven to eight guys doing the right things, but then have one or two guys missing assignments. That’s not working.”
In a game that was expected to be a defensive battle, Wayzata out-gained Eden Prairie 184-161.
Wayzata ran for 120 yards, Eden Prairie for 111. Wayzata threw for 64 yards, Eden Prairie for 50.
Hartle led Eden Prairie with 21 carries for 77 yards.
Jack Hedlund completed 3-8 passes for 50 yards. Kramer caught two passes for 28 yards.
“That’s a state-championship caliber team over there,” said Grant, following Friday’s loss. “We’re close, but we have to get better.”
“They fumbled three times, but didn’t lose one of them,” said the coach. “And we just missed blocking their field goal. If we get it, Sather (Ben Sather) picks it up and goes the other way.”
“They’re one of the top two or three teams in the state,” said Grant. “If we play again, I think we beat them.”
The loss dropped Eden Prairie’s overall record to 4-1. The victory lifted Wayzata’s overall record to 5-0.
Note: Eden Prairie last lost a Homecoming game in 2012, when it fell 17-6 to Edina. The Eagles lost to Wayzata the following week before going on to win a state championship that year.
Eden Prairie returns to action Friday with an away game at Edina.