Eden Prairie claimed it was a different team, but the way the Eagles physically overmatched Edina on Friday, they seemed very much the same.
Senior running back Solo Falaniko rushed 15 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns and the Eagles gummed up host Edina's high-powered offense in a 21-9 victory Friday.
Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant said his defense is smaller and quicker than in previous years, but the result was the same sort of grind-'em-down effort that is Eden Prairie's hallmark. The Eagles shut down the Hornets offense, not allowing them anything on the ground and harassing quarterback Brock Boltmann.
"We have really good team speed on defense." Grant said. "Usually we have big 240-, 250-pound guys that play fundamentally sound. This year, we're a faster team."
After Edina took a 3-0 lead on its opening drive, Eden Prairie responded with second-quarter touchdowns by Falaniko and Devan Greene Jr. to take a 14-3 halftime lead.
Edina's defense stiffened in the second half, and the Hornets cut the lead to 14-9 on a 1-yard run by Boltmann midway through the fourth quarter. Eden Prairie kept it there by making a huge goal-line stand, stopping Edina on four straight plays inside the 2.
Eden Prairie completed the scoring with a 59-yard drive capped by a 24-yard game-clinching TD run by Falaniko.