Score one for football in the State of Hockey.
Hopkins took the best Houston Episcopal could muster, then delivered a stunning knockout blow on a 41-yard touchdown run by quarterback J.T. DenHartog with 41 seconds left in the game to pull out a 20-14 victory Saturday afternoon at Hopkins' Royals Stadium'
"All week we'd been hearing about how good Texas football was and that we were going to get crushed," said DenHartog, who got the Royals off to a fast start with a similar 41-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. "It feels great to show we can play good football in Minnesota."
Episcopal head coach Steve Leisz, a 1984 graduate of Minnetonka, scheduled the game because he had long wanted to play in his home state. Episcopal is ranked No. 2 among small schools in the Houston area.
But Hopkins refused to play the gracious host, forcing three Episcopal turnovers and taking a 14-0 halftime lead on DenHartog's first touchdown and a short run by David Cliett.
"We came out fired up," Cliett said.
Things changed quickly in the second half. Episcopal scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes, including an incredible 67-yard run by sophomore Tyreik Gray, who did a spot-on impression of Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson by hurdling a tackler at the sideline.
"What you saw in the second half was what our team is," Leisz said.
Hopkins' offense came to life on its final drive.
Taking over at its own 33 with 2:08 left, the Royals moved downfield crisply, taking the lead for good on DenHartog's game-saving jaunt.
"I'm just really happy we didn't get down on ourselves," said coach John DenHartog, the quarterback's father. "I always tell the team that good and bad things are going to happen but if you stick together, things will work out. And we did that."