The classic tortoise vs. hare children's story was recast Saturday night with a gridiron theme. St. Anthony, methodical and precise, on one side. Host Cooper, explosive to a fault, on the other.
And, for the first half at least, the outcome was identical. But Cooper's speed wrote a new ending to the story, using big play after big play to run past the Huskies 42-21 in the Section 6, 4A semifinals.
Cooper scored quickly in the first half, on a 65-yard run by Ashanti Payne on its first play from scrimmage and a 90-yard kickoff return by Billy Kellogg, who broke at least four tackles en route.
By contrast, St. Anthony took the slow and steady path, putting together drives of 13 and 10 plays that resulted in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Nick Kampa to Billy Johnson and an 8-yard run by Zach Siggelkow in the latter stages of the second quarter. St. Anthony led 14-13 at halftime.
The Hawks, the No. 2 seed in the section, began writing a new ending in the third quarter. Quarterback Briceon Scott-Burch raced through the Huskies defense for a 65-yard score, Payne scored on a 52-yard run and Scott-Burch lofted a perfect pass to Khavon Hawkins for a 66-yard touchdown. All of a sudden a close game was a rout. Cooper led 35-14, all five touchdowns on plays of 52 yards or longer.
"There are two halves to a football game," Cooper coach Willie Howard said. "We showed a lot of resolve. We always want to start fast but finish faster."
St. Anthony, shell-shocked by the 22-point barrage, managed a touchdown on a 2-yard throw-back pass from Siggelkow to Rush, but it was little more than salve on a wound.
Cooper (8-2) recovered the ensuing onsides kick and scored again, this time on a 31-yard run by Scott-Burch.
"We didn't take them seriously in the first half," Howard said. "St. Anthony is a good team. We had to find that out."