For Maple Grove, it was all about picking the right moment.
After Lakeville South and Maple Grove began with matching scoring drives Thursday in a Class 6A semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Crimson took an opening when it presented itself and made the most impactful play of the game. And perhaps of their season.
Maple Grove quarterback Jacob Kilzer found Jacob Anderson streaking past the Lakeville South defense and hit him in stride for a 72-yard touchdown, the winning points in a 14-7 Crimson victory.
Maple Grove (12-0) advanced to the Prep Bowl on Dec. 2.
"We kind of thought there might be a chance to hit that one with the way they played things defensively," Maple Grove coach Matt Lombardi said.
Lakeville South (9-3) opened the game with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that took 8 minutes, 8 seconds and ended with a 3-yard scoring run by Cougars all-world running back Carson Hansen for a 7-0 lead.
Maple Grove took the initial blow and clapped back with one of its own, a 14-play, 80-yard affair that took 7:59. Tanner Albeck scored on a 2-yard run to tie the score 7-7.
The game was well into the second quarter — Albeck scored at 7:53 — with each team having had only one possession.
Lakeville South embarked on another march into Maple Grove territory, but the Crimson defense held the Cougars on fourth-and-1 at the Crimson 28, setting up the long touchdown pass.
"I was really proud of our offense, especially after their first touchdown drive when they just gouged us," Lombardi said. "We came right back and answered, and that was maybe the turning point of the game."
With the ball in the air, Anderson said he briefly had a flashback to a game this season when a similar pass slipped through his hands.
"I heard the fans cheering," Anderson said about the moment he pulled in the ball. "It was a big relief."
The Maple Grove defense stood firm in the second half, giving ground grudgingly and intercepting Lakeville South quarterback Jacob Royse three times.
Hansen led all rushers with 89 yards, and Ryder Patterson added 87 for Lakeville South.
Kilzer was 8-for-8 passing for 127 yards and was also the Crimson's leading rusher with 62 yards.