Defeating Eden Prairie is hard enough, but trying to accomplish it while also battling your own mistakes? Maple Grove proved that is darn near impossible.
The Crimson and quarterback Brad Davison moved up and down the field on Eden Prairie, but turnovers, penalties, missed tackles and you name it did in Maple Grove, leading to a 63-21 romp for the Eagles.
"That's been our story all year," Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi said. "We just make too many mistakes."
Maple Grove (8-3) turned over the ball six times, allowed an onside kick to be recovered and failed to score on a first-and-goal at the Eden Prairie 3-yard line. Each time the Crimson bumbled, the Eagles took advantage.
They turned two first-quarter fumbles into a quick 14-0 lead. After Maple Grove tied it 14-14, Eden Prairie scored four consecutive touchdowns, each one the by-product of a Maple Grove gift.
"Do I feel for those guys?" Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant was asked. "No, not during the game. I mean, I've been there. I've lost games like that. You can't feel sorry for them."
The key stretch came midway through second quarter. Trailing 21-14, Maple Grove drove to the Eden Prairie 3-yard-line. Then the following happened in rapid succession: 1-yard loss, false-start penalty, incomplete pass, 7-yard sack, missed 35-yard field goal.
Eden Prairie (10-1) made it hurt even more on the very next play when running back Solo Falaniko raced 80 yards for a touchdown. In a short span of time, a potential tie game had turned into a 14-point advantage for Eden Prairie.
"That was pretty big," Grant said. "Falaniko, he's a special player."
That's an understatement. The transfer from Anchorage, Alaska — he comes from a military family — did it again the next time he touched the ball, going 74 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 223 yards on just 11 carries.
"This is so much different than Alaska football," Falaniko said. "It's fast, and it's physical. And it's fun."