After a wildly offensive first quarter that would have been record-setting had such records been kept, St. Croix Lutheran turned to its defense to turn back Providence Academy 58-29 and advance to the Class 3A championship game for the first time in team history.
The Crusaders (13-0) had been accustomed to putting up points in super-size amounts, averaging nearly 47 per game. But even they were blindsided by the ridiculous first 12 minutes.
The two teams combined for 59 points and 543 yards in the quarter, with St. Croix Lutheran holding a slim 30-29 lead. There were five touchdowns of more than 50 yards, all eight longer than 25 yards. The MSHSL does not keep individual game records for non-state championship games, but it's likely such numbers would find their way into history.
"Yes, that was unusual, wasn't it?" said St. Croix Lutheran coach Carl Lemke. "They came out with a great game plan, and I think we took them for granted a little."
St. Croix Lutheran had routed Providence Academy 52-6 in the season opener for both teams, but Providence coach Nate Harrington was convinced that his team had improved enough to give the Crusaders a bigger challenge.
"We had nine defensive players in different positions since then," Harrington said. "I thought they did what we thought they would, and we did what we wanted. And then in the second quarter, the wheels fell off."
After giving up a game's worth of points in one quarter, the Crusaders defense regrouped, shutting out the Lions for the remainder of the game.
"I think we were a little nervous," Lemke said. "They shook us up a little. It took us a while to adjust."
While the defense dug in, the offense, with quarterback Matt Olson playing his best all-around game of the season, added another 28 points to turn the game into a rout.
Olson, who normally spends most of a game handing off to running backs Jackson Goplen and Wesley Tucker, rushed for 90 yards and three touchdowns and completed six of nine passes for 241 yards and three more touchdowns.
In all, St. Croix Lutheran had a whopping 675 yards of total offense.
"It really helps to have great running backs like Goplen and Tucker," Olson said. "It's fun to play with guys like that."