Tuesday night was cold, windy, and sitting on metal bleachers was down right uncomfortable. On the other hand, the Hornets-Royals clash was exciting, it was back and forth, the top players shined, and an unlikely hero emerged as Edina edged Hopkins 38-35 in a game of the year caliber contest.
By now most have heard that young freshman Patrick LeCorre has went from obscure Edina freshman soccer player to game winning football hero. Why? Because his first even field goal attempt was tucked inside the left upright from 36 yards out causing the players in green, black, and white to sprint to the 26 yard line and mob the young man.
LeCorre's game winning kick gave Edina a dramatic playoff victory over a conference rival and sent his team to the next round of section play (congrats Edina, you get EP! Good luck).
The kick came after each team called a time-out two hours and 45 minutes into the game and it was only fitting that the coaches went back and forth on time-outs because the game was seesaw from the start.
On the first two Hopkins possessions the Royals scored touchdowns including a blazing 80 yard score by Vanderbilt committed Andre McDonald who, despite being bigger than just about everyone on the field, burst through a few arm tackles, cut to the right burning a d-back, and then out-raced the rest of the back seven to the corner of the end zone. It gave the Royals a 12-0 lead.
However, Francisco Hardacker followed Kevin Carroll and the Hornet line to three touchdowns in the second and third quarter dominating Hopkins up front for a 35-18 advantage.
All looked bleak for the blue and white (and in McDonald's case blue, white, and pink) when Hardacker scored from seven yards out to give his team a 17-point advantage. After the play Hopkins junior corner Kelly Ferguson grabbed Hardacker's face mask out of frustration and threw him out of bounds to make matters worse.
Seconds later Hopkins leaders Ian Cochran and Daniel Schmid let Ferguson know of their frustration with his penalty and all looked lost for the Royals.
But hold on a second! The passionate Royal disgust of the penalty actually helped to ignite the defensive group. On the next three drives Cochran and company went from turnstiles to stone walls finding the strength to finally standup to their opponents.
Meanwhile, the highly potent Hopkins offense scored two touchdowns, including a shoe string 32 yard touchdown catch from McDonald, plus added a clutch field goal from Zach Brengman to tie the score at 35 with under a minute left.
Overtime looked definite for all frozen at the Edina Community Center but a short squib kick gave the Hornets the ball just shy of midfield. Three Mark Handberg sideline passes later (to Graham Woodward and Jake Remes) the Hornets had the ball at the 19 yard line with 3.9 seconds to go.
Hopkins and Edina went back and forth went timeouts and then LeCorre made the kick that will stay with him and his teammates for the rest of their lives.
1. Vanderbilt committed Andre McDonald caught five passes for a 167 yards and two scores. Is he the best prospect in the state of Minnesota? I haven't seen Isaac Hayes yet but of the guys I have seen I would say Andre most definitely is. McDonald is ridiculously explosive plus seems to have a will to succeed.
2. Andre caught those five passes plus dropped a touchdown pass that would have gone for 63 yards. He also had two fumbles although neither was costly because one was picked up by a teammate and the other saw the Hopkins D make up for the miscue with a three and out. In nine games this year Andre caught 60 passes for 1,253
yards and 17 scores.
3. Edina lineman Kevin Carroll was a brute force and most of Hardacker's yards came off his back. I'm not sure he's the listed 6-foot-3 285 pounds but to this untrained eye Carroll seems to have ability that would result in calls from colleges at the highest division. Is he Gopher worthy? A college scout would answer that better than I but he seems close.
4. Carroll had one pulling block from right tackle up the gut but a blitzing linebacker interrupted the play. Despite this Carroll had the quickness to fly out of his stance and lunge at the linebacker knocking him out of the hole in incredible fashion. This was easily one of the most impressive plays I've seen all year because most linemen wouldn't have had the speed to get to the middle and take out a blitzing linebacker. Throughout the night Carroll was driving opponents either ten yards out of the play in "The Blindside" fashion or he was getting into their chest, moving his feet, and planting them on their backs. Carroll did make some mistakes (two or three penalties) but most of that is from intensity. Whatever college coach gets him is going to be very pleased. He even had a sack on defense blasting through the line and swallowing the Hopkins QB.
5. The 5-foot-10, 180 pound Francisco Hardacker may have earned him self a day or two without school. He ran 28 times for 243 yards and three scores plus defended McDonald for part of the game as the defensive back. Hardacker accumulated several solo tackles on the edge and recovered a fumble. Let me say this again, Hardacker ran 28 times for 243 yards on offense and then went out on defense to match-up with McDonald who is the most dangerous skilled player in the state of Minnesota.
6. For a good portion of the game Edina defended McDonald with a corner lining face-up at the line of scrimmage and then doubled with a safety lined up ten yards directly behind. McDonald scored twice and had 167 yards but Edina did limit him to five receptions.
7. Edina sophomore defender Jack Hunzelman had a series where he sacked the quarterback twice and forced a QB hurry. This was all in three plays and it happened when Hopkins lost a lineman temporarily due to an ankle injury. Edina had a lot of trouble stopping Hopkins in the second half but this one series of success can't be looked over as it was a halt in their momentum. Junior linebacker Coleman Foley had a monster defensive play late in the game himself getting a sack.
8. The Edina offensive line of Carroll, Ian Collins, Adam Farhat, Brian Franz, and Connor Cavanor all deserve a game ball for their 300 yards plus of run blocking effort.
9. Hopkins had several standouts as well. Running back Richard Cliett picked up a lot of tough yards on his way to 83 for the game and Zaccaria Merie led the team with seven catches (65 yards). On the line senior Austin Jensen showed how valuable he was returning to the line-up after a second half ankle injury while on the defensive side Daniel Schmid battled throughout the contest. Ian Cochran was constantly around the play and defensive back Tavaughn Blair was his usual steady self.
10. Edina's prize for their victory is a date with Eden Prairie who beat the Hornets 35-7 less than two weeks ago.