Quarterback Tyler Johnson accounted for seven touchdowns — one rushing, six passing — in leading Minneapolis North past Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 54-29 in their Class 1A quarterfinal game at Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter.
Johnson, a senior who has committed to Minnesota, threw for 285 yards and ran for 186 yards. He started the scoring on the Polars' first offensive possession of the game on a 68-yard touchdown run.
The Polars (11-0) scored 42 consecutive points in the second and third quarters. They broke open the game on a pass from Johnson to Azerick Rodgers for an 80-yard touchdown play with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half.
Johnson's seven touchdowns went for a combined 277 yards.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (10-2) had opportunities early in the game to get points and keep the score from getting out of hand. The Panthers got into the red zone several times, but the Polars defense made big plays to keep them off the scoreboard. The Polars recorded an interception in the end zone, and several sacks that forced extremely long fourth-down situations.
"It's teamwork, man. Just got to work together,'' Polars defensive tackle Phillip Scott said of getting stops against the Panthers. "We talked on defense a lot. We said what we were going to do and got the work done."
Defending 4A champions get to exhale
One week after a breathless victory over No. 1-ranked Orono, defending champion Becker got a chance to breathe a little easier, routing Benilde-St. Margaret's 48-7 in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Osseo.
The Bulldogs (11-0) scored the first four times they had the ball, going 60, 65, 57 and 39 yards for touchdowns, building a 27-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter. Becker rolled up 333 yards of offense in the first half.
At the same time, the Becker defense was manhandling the Benilde offense. The Red Knights (5-6) turned the ball over twice, did not have a first down and were held to minus-14 yards of offense before halftime. They registered their initial first down of the game with 7 minutes left in the third quarter. By that time, Becker led 48-0.
Six players scored touchdowns for Becker, led by senior Milan Kent, who scored one touchdown rushing and one touchdown receiving.
Becker has won 23 consecutive games, the third-longest current streak in Minnesota. Grand Meadow has won 34 games in a row, Minneota has 25. The Bulldogs will play Stewartville in the 4A semifinals Friday at Chanhassen.
State newcomers look part of contenders
Tri-City United, making its first appearance in the state tournament, got four touchdowns from running back Aaron Chimal and overcame an early deficit to top Belle Plaine 41-24 in Class 3A action in Lakeville.
"We all just cried of happiness," Chimal said.
Chimal's touchdowns all came in the second quarter after Belle Plaine jumped to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. He scored on runs of 1, 18 and 8 yards before breaking off a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The last of his four scores put the Titans up 28-21, which stood at halftime.
Belle Plaine lost starting quarterback Luke Narveson to a shoulder injury late in the first half. Narveson had rushing touchdowns of 87 and 3 yards before the injury. With Narveson on the sideline, the Tigers got a field goal in the third quarter that cut the deficit to 28-24 but didn't score again.
Tri-City United advances to face the winner of Pierz and Albany on Friday at Park Center High School.
Jackson County Central 44, St. Croix Lutheran 26: Running back Avery Henderson rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns to help Jackson County Central cruise to a Class 3A quarterfinal victory at Maple Grove. Teammate Keegan Moore added 127 yards and two scores on the ground. St. Croix Lutheran got a 7-yard touchdown run from quarterback Isaac Tietz that made the score to 23-12 in the third quarter. But Henderson responded with touchdown runs of 42 and 80 yards to seal the victory.