Minneapolis dropped a crucial district game, as well as homecoming night on Friday, as the Ellsworth Bearcats shut the Lions out in the second half to secure a 21-12 win.
Things started out dreadfully for the Lions. Minneapolis ran a fake punt play on its first possession deep in its own territory. Ellsworth wasn’t fooled and started its first offensive series with excellent starting field position.
The Bearcats were able to capitalize and they used a Morgan Kelley touchdown run to take an early 7-0 lead.
A penalty on the ensuing kickoff return put Minneapolis deep in to Ellsworth territory. The Lions drove to the 35 of Ellsworth when MHS quarterback, Derek Freel, was picked off by a spectacular one-handed catch by Luke Sharp. Sharp ran the ball back 80 yards untouched for a pick-six and midway through the opening quarter, Ellsworth led 14-0.
However, Minneapolis was able to dominate the second period the way Ellsworth owned the first. The Lions scored its first touchdown on a Daniel Watson 14 yard score. Unfortunately, Watson sustained an injury on the play and did not return for the remainder of the game. Minneapolis also failed on the PAT attempt, however, were on the board down 14-6 with 9:01 remaining in the second.
The Minneapolis defense began to take control in the second quarter as the Bearcats were blanked in the period. Minneapolis then put together a scoring drive just before halftime that resulted in Freel finding receiver, Kaden Griffen, for a five yard touchdown pass. The Lions went for two and were stopped.
At halftime, Ellsworth led 14-12.
The game was flipped on its head in the third quarter. Minneapolis held Ellsworth to a three-and-out to open up the period. The Lions then drove the ball to the Ellsworth 35. However, their drive stalled. On 4th and 8 from the 35 of Ellsworth, Minneapolis decided to play field position and punt the ball away.
However, the snap to punter, Griffen, was high. Griffen was able to tap the ball to himself, but kicked a low line-drive laser kick right at corner back, Kelley. Instead of letting the ball bounce at the 20–and likely roll inside of the 10–Kelley made a tough play and caught the ball, ran it up the field to the Ellsworth 40 and was then tackled late out-of-bounds. The result of the personal foul penalty put Ellsworth in to Minneapolis territory.
In stead of Minneapolis pinning Ellsworth back, the Bearcats flipped field position on one play and had the ball deep in Lion territory.
Ellsworth capitalized with a 15 yard touchdown run by Sharp. Ellsworth led with 4:05 to go in the third quarter, 21-12.
Minneapolis failed to move the ball on its next two drives, resulting in Ellsworth taking time off of the clock. Minneapolis finally got the ball back with under seven minutes left.
The Lions put together one of its best drives on the night as MHS moved the ball to the Ellsworth four yard line with a little more than two minutes left–needing an onside kick recovery.
Minneapolis wouldn’t make it to the on-side, as Freel was intercepted a second time at the goal line–this time by Kash Travnichek, to seal the Ellsworth win.
Ellsworth (4-0, 4-0 NCAA) scored a hard-fought road win to gain revenge on Minneapolis’ road win in Ellsworth last year. More importantly, the Bearcats are now +9 points up on Minneapolis in brutal 2A District No. 8. If the Lions and Bearcats were to tie in points, Ellsworth would also own the tiebreaker.
Minneapolis (2-2, 2-2 NCAA) has dropped two-in-a-row after opening up the season with consecutive wins. The Lions are now -9 points down in district play.
Minneapolis goes back on the road in week five, as the Lions make the long road trip to Norton next week. Live coverage can be heard on 92.7 The New Zoo with a 7 p.m. kickoff.