After allowing Chanhassen to march 91 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive Saturday, the Mankato West defense buckled down.
The sixth-ranked Scarlets didn't surrender another point the rest of the way while advancing past the Storm 14-7 in the Class 5A, Section 2 semifinals. They improved to 5-0 all-time against the Storm, including last year's 35-14 win in the section finals, also played at Chanhassen.
"We moved a couple of people around after that opening drive, and it secured the line," Mankato West senior lineman Zach Jakes said. "Everyone did their job, stepped up and made plays."
On offense, sophomore quarterback Jack Foster and sophomore receiver Spencer Spaude connected on two 16-yard touchdown passes in the second quarter to put the Scarlets in front. Foster completed 14 of 24 passes for 82 yards and added 71 yards on the ground. Senior tailback Dustin Mueller gained 71 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Storm quarterback Jacob Miller capped off Chanhassen's long opening drive by racing 9 yards for a touchdown. Over the final three quarters, however, the junior was consistently contained by the Mankato West defense. He had 91 yards on 21 carries.
Late in the game Miller completed a couple long passes to move the ball into Mankato West territory. But his last pass was intercepted by Scarlets safety Josh Block with 1:25 to go.
Thanks to Waconia's 20-10 upset of top section seed Chaska, the Scarlets (9-1) get to host the Section 2 championship Friday at Todnem Field in Mankato.
"It's a great advantage," Jakes said. "For us seniors, we didn't think we were going to get to play there again. I think we're going to make the most of it."