For Eden Prairie quarterback Cole Kramer, it was pure instinct. For Eagles coach Mike Grant, it was all part of the plan (wink, wink). For Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi, it was another tough break.
"It" was a fortunate bounce for the Eagles, a Crimson fumble that turned failure into shocking success and proved key to Eden Prairie's ragged 28-15 victory at Maple Grove.
Late in the first half and clinging to a 14-3 lead, Eden Prairie running back Devan Greene Jr. fumbled on fourth-and-1 at midfield. The ball bounced straight backward to Kramer, who picked it up and sprinted untouched for a 50-yard touchdown and a 21-3 lead that Eden Prairie (3-1) carried into halftime.
"I didn't have time to think," Kramer said. "I just picked it up and ran."
Grant called it "the biggest play of the game," then playfully said it was called that way.
"That was the fumblerooski," he said smiling. "We're going to say we called it."
Eden Prairie was ahead 14-0 before the game was six minutes old on a short touchdown by Greene and a blocked punt return for a touchdown by Tommy Fuller. Maple Grove (2-2) regrouped and made three forays into Eden Prairie's red zone before halftime but managed just three points before the fateful fumble.
"I thought starting about the second quarter we had momentum," Lombardi said of his team, which has been forced to rally in three of its first four games. "But we have to learn how to sense that. We haven't gotten there yet."