Fourth-down conversions. Late-game magic. Comeback victory.
Everything Totino-Grace football coach Jeff Ferguson has come to admire about Eden Prairie worked in his team's favor in a 17-14 victory.
"Over the years they just seem to make something happen," said Ferguson, a nod to Eden Prairie's 10 state football championships since 1996.
But it was Totino-Grace in control on the road when it mattered Thursday. Quarterback Kyle Halverson found Ivan Burlak for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth down in the final quarter. Totino-Grace secured the victory by turning Eden Prairie over on downs and getting a key Brady Bertram third-down conversion.
"I give them a lot of credit," Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant said. "They came in here and made plays."
The game was a rematch of last season's Class 6A state tournament quarterfinals, when Totino-Grace upset the four-time defending champion Eagles. The resiliency fueling that victory, in which Totino-Grace also rallied in the fourth quarter, came through again in the season opener.
Devan Greene Jr. put Eden Prairie ahead 14-10 earlier in the final quarter on a 33-yard rush. Grant figured the lead would stand. Totino-Grace players felt otherwise. The offense converted twice on fourth down on the go-ahead drive, capped by Burlak's touchdown catch.
"It sets a great tone," said Burlak, who also rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter. "It just shows that we competed in the summer and worked hard for it."
With a nod to their now-annual playoff meetings, Grant said: "I told Fergie, 'We'll see you again.' "
DAVID LA VAQUE