There was a fumble on its first play from scrimmage. And again on the second, a sure touchdown suddenly becoming a turnover. A field-goal attempt doinked off an upright.

This was not the start Eden Prairie anticipated.

But it's how you finish that matters, and the Eagles, ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, remedied one quarter of absurdity with three quarters of inspired football to defeat No. 2, 6A Minnetonka 39-21.

"We were talking and we said that's the worst start we've ever had," Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant said. "But our kids, they're resilient."

Minnetonka went into the game 6-0, its best record this late in the season in coach Dave Nelson's tenure. The Skippers turned Eden Prairie's first mistake into an Aaron Syverson-to-Eric Douville touchdown pass and led 8-0 less than two minutes into the game.

One play later, D.J. Johnson hauled in a pass from Cole Kramer and appeared headed for a 73-yard touchdown. But Johnson fumbled while being tackled near the goal line and Minnetonka recovered at its own 3, a 180-degree pivot of emotion on one play.

On Eden Prairie's next possession, Antonio Montero, the Eagles' fabulous linebacker/running back/kicker, had a 49-yard field goal bounce off an upright.

Was this the game where luck turns against the state's most successful program?

"That thought creeps into your mind," Montero said. "But you just have to keep thinking positively and keep pounding."

Eden Prairie's luck changed one play later, when Grant Harstad intercepted a pass at the Minnetonka 40. Four plays later, Solo Falaniko scored, tying it 8-8.

"When we get down, we just come back even harder," Harstad said. "If we make a mistake, the next person makes a big play."

The two teams traded touchdowns before Eden Prairie took an 18-15 lead on a Montero field goal just before halftime.

"That was big psychologically," Grant said. "Worst start ever, but we lead at half. You convince the kids everything is going to go our way in the second half."

Which it did. Eden Prairie (7-0) picked off two more passes and scored three touchdowns after halftime and punctuated the victory with a game-clinching pick-six by linebacker Collin Penn for the final score.