After nearly two quarters of handing off on running plays, Spring Lake Park quarterback Zach Dunbar dropped back for a pass. Jack McKusick caught the 14-yard spiral for a touchdown to stretch the Panthers' lead to 13 points against Minneapolis Southwest in the Class 5A, Section 5 playoff game.
From there, the Panthers got back to running the ball and playing opportunistic defense en route to their 35-21 home victory.
"If we're running the ball well and they've got to bring their defensive backs into the box, good things can happen," Panthers coach Jeff Schlieff said.
Dunbar, a sophomore, and senior running back Cade McMahon powered the Panthers offense. The pair combined for four touchdowns and had a hand in nearly every play of Spring Lake Park's read-option scheme. McMahon fumbled twice, but his physical runs helped the Panthers control the game.
"[Dunbar] runs so hard. He's about as big as a toothpick and he lowers his shoulder and he delivers the blow," Schlieff said. "He's gotten better and better every week."
While Spring Lake Park (5-4) was in control for most of the game, Minneapolis Southwest (4-5) produced a memorable highlight. With his team trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, sophomore running back T.K. Marshall ran 76 yards down the right sideline to give the Lakers offense some life.
Minneapolis Southwest's momentum was short-lived, with McMahon sacking Lakers quarterback Jayzee Brown to force another fumble.