Panthers survive Shakopee, advance to semis

Lakeville North quarterback RaJa Nelson turns upfield on a running play in the first half of a Class 6A quarterfinal game against Shakopee at Stillwater High School. Nelson scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and the Panthers went on to win 9-7.

Rosemount’s season ends in Class 6A quarterfinals

One thing you have to understand about playoff football, RaJa Nelson said, is “it isn’t going to be a pretty game.”

And it wasn’t for Lakeville North on Thursday night, but the Panthers made enough big plays in the fourth quarter to survive Shakopee’s upset bid in the Class 6A quarterfinals. Their 9-7 victory sends the defending state champions back to U.S. Bank Stadium for the semifinals, where they will face Champlin Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14.

Trailing 7-3 in the fourth quarter, Lakeville North (10-1) lost the ball on downs at the Shakopee 34-yard line. But then the run-heavy Sabers (5-6) surprised just about everybody at the Stillwater High School stadium by attempting a pass on first down, which North linebacker Nick Mines intercepted. Moments later North converted on fourth down, with Panthers quarterback Nelson scoring on a 7-yard run.

Playing defense, Nelson intercepted a pass in the final minute to end Shakopee’s final drive.

“From here on out, we’re not going to face any average teams,” Nelson said. “Every team in (the playoffs) is a great team and has a chance. You have to earn your wins. We faced a lot of adversity and did what we had to do.”

Nelson was the Panthers’ leading rusher with 105 yards. He also reached the end zone on a running play in the third quarter, but the touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty and North would up with a 30-yard field goal by Preston Fisk.

The game was 0-0 until the final minute of the first half when Shakopee quarterback David Bigaouette scored on an 11-yard run.

Champlin Park 34, Rosemount 7

Rosemount’s four-game winning streak, its playoff run and its season ended with a thud in a Class 6A quarterfinal loss to Champlin Park on Thursday at Park Center High School.

Rosemount (7-3) took a 7-6 lead in the second quarter on Christian Graske’s 24-yard touchdown run. But the Rebels regained the lead before halftime and added three more scores in the second half.

Champlin Park defeated Rosemount 17-14 in a regular-season game Oct. 4. In that game, Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann said the Irish had trouble keeping Rebels’ quarterback Jaice Miller.

That was the case again Thursday as Miller ran for three touchdowns and passed for two.

Champlin Park (9-1) will play Lakeville North in the Class 6A semifinals Thursday, Nov. 14, at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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