Missing from the state tournament since 1983, Coon Rapids extended its stay in the Class 5A title chase with a 14-2 victory over Spring Lake Park in a quarterfinal game on Saturday in Osseo.
"We came into the year wanting to prove something,'' Cardinals senior quarterback Jake Van Hulzen said. "We knew we had a great team."
Spring Lake Park (8-3) kept Coon Rapids in check at first with two forced fumbles in the first quarter but couldn't capitalize on both in Cardinals territory.
A Panthers punt had Coon Rapids starting at its 6. What ensued was a 94-yard touchdown drive, led by Van Hulzen's running and passing, culminating in David Geebli's 4-yard touchdown run in second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
"We just needed to stick to the game plan and get downfield," Van Hulzen said.
Spring Lake Park threatened to tie in the final minute of the first half when sophomore quarterback Aaron Clausen completed a 27-yard pass to the Cardinals 11. He targeted junior wide receiver Kaleb Skelly twice in the end zone, but the Cardinals secondary stopped both tries.
"Coon Rapids played a heck of game," said Panthers senior Zach Dunbar, who split time at quarterback with Clausen.
The Cardinals (8-3) shut down the Panthers' running attack, forcing four fumbles and allowing no first downs in the second half. Van Hulzen iced the game with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Geebli helped the Cardinals run out the clock, finishing with 117 yards on 27 carries.
"We just wanted it more and got it done," Van Hulzen said.