Lakeville North strayed from its game plan during a regular-season loss to Prior Lake. The Panthers wouldn't let it happen again in tourney time.
A 20-point second half and staunch defensive effort vaulted the Panthers to a 23-3 victory over the Lakers in the Class 6A quarterfinal Thursday night at the Metrodome.
Lakeville North quarterback Zach Creighton said the Panthers (10-1) weren't out for revenge against their co-South Suburban Conference champions but to prove to themselves they are the better team.
"We saw it as an opportunity to show the state and show the conference how good we are -- and that's what we came out and did," said Creighton, whose team lost 10-6 at home to Prior Lake (9-2) on Sept. 28.
Jamiah Newell ran for two touchdowns and Kyrel Newell had two interceptions for Lakeville North, which will play another conference rival, Rosemount, in the semifinals next Thursday.
Down 3-0 late in the first half, the Panthers finally got their offense going, but with time running out they had to settle for Hunter Cobb's 26-yard field goal with three seconds left. Still, the drive was a momentum-builder.
"Sometimes it's nice to get into that hurry-up mode and get into that rhythm, throw the ball six or seven times in a row," Creighton said. "That definitely helped me and our offense get into a rhythm."
Jamiah Newell's 11-yard TD run in the third quarter put North ahead, and he and Mitch Johnson scored in the fourth quarter to put the Lakers away.
While the Panthers offense broke out in the second half, their defense was in beast mode all night long. Kyrel Newell believed the team learned a lot from its earlier loss.
"We went back, watched more film, saw what we could work on to get better," the defensive back said. "We just came out with the mentality that we're not going to let them score."