Turnovers turned the tide for Lakeville North, fueling its offense in a blowout of the Panthers.
Brian Vossen broke Lakeville North's celebratory postgame huddle Thursday and soon was joined by his biggest fan.
"Daddy," Vossen's young daughter said after he scooped her up in his arms. "You won! Good job being a coach!"
Scenes like this aren't likely to go away soon.
With much to prove after last season's dream football season crashed in the state quarterfinals, Vossen's Panthers made the short trek to Lakeville South for opening night 2012 and put on a show.
Helped by five turnovers -- two returned for touchdowns -- from its ball-hawk defense, North pummeled its crosstown rival 47-24.
"And it was ugly," said Vossen, a defensive-minded head coach, meaning no disrespect to South but lamenting all of the yards his team surrendered. "Messy. But that's Week 1. We've got much to improve on. But I think what you saw was a big-play ability."
After South went up 7-0 on a 51-yard touchdown run, the Panthers answered with a 34-yard touchdown pass from new starting quarterback Zach Creighton to Brandon Morgan.
South's next three drives ended with: fumble, fumble recovery for a touchdown, fumble.
The Cougars got seven points back with an interception return for a TD of their own with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first half. Morgan, who took the opening kickoff deep before it was called back for holding, returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to make it 27-14. Creighton then led an eight-play scoring drive at the end of the half for a 20-point cushion.
"That first one you could have ran a truck through it," Morgan said of his returns. "I told our special teams coach we had to go to the left again, and I got a huge block from Tanner Jacobus to get to the end zone. It was all on him."
Lakeville North, which returns nine starters on defense from last year's team, didn't let up.
Greg Menard returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage in the second half. A 91-yard rushing TD from Jacobus late in the game capped the Panthers' claim to the traveling Cat trophy for the fifth time in the past six meetings with the Cougars.
"I love seeing so many guys being as explosive as they were," Vossen said. "It gives us that comfort that, in any game this season if we're down a couple scores there's always a potential to come back."