Minneapolis Lions Junior Kaden Griffin hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass from Junior Derek Freel in overtime to capture the 20-17 win for the Lions in their home opener against the Sacred Heart Knights.
Griffin opened the game with a big play catching a 49-yard pass from Senior halfback Kaden McCullick on the first play from scrimmage. Minneapolis continued the momentum on the opening drive ending with a 9-yard touchdown run from Senior Tyson Villalpando less than two minutes into the ballgame. Lions would continue to lead 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.
It wouldn’t take Minneapolis long to score in the second quarter, however, when Sophomore Trent Moeckel rushed his only carry of the game in from 31-yards out to put the Lions up, 14-0.
Sacred Heart found the end-zone for the first time this season with 4:20 left to go in the second quarter when Senior Quarterback David Anderson found Senior Trace Leners for a 28-yard score. It was the first of two scores between the two, as they connected on a 15-yard touchdown with 7:18 left in the third quarter to tie the game up, 14-14.
After a three-and-out from Minneapolis on their first possession of the second half, the Knights would control the clock taking over five minutes to drive down inside the Lions’ 25-yard line before Minneapolis Linebacker Cooper Thompson picked off Anderson with a minute left to go in the third. Both teams battled each other throughout the fourth quarter, but neither team able to find a score remaining tied at 14-14 when regulation ended.
Knights opened up overtime with the football. With the first play, they ran the ball with Sophomore Jared McCartney, who gained two yards to the eight-yard line. They gave it to McCartnery again as Minneapolis held him to just a one-yard gain. Sacred Heart threw it on third down, but Anderson’s pass toward Leners was knocked out of bounds. Sacred Heart elected to go for a field goal. Kobe Douglas knocked it through from 24-yards out to put the Knights up 17-14.
Minneapolis, on the first play, took a shot towards the far end-zone where Griffin battled with the Knights defender for the football as they went to the ground securing it in to his hands to capture the victory.
Griffin had three receptions for 99 yards for the Lions. Freel was just 3-for-9 throwing the ball for 65 yards. Hauck led the team in rushing with 99 yards on 15 carries, while Villalpando had 11 rushes for 66 yards. Lions finished with 302 yards of offense, 188 yards on the ground and 114 through the air.
Anderson was 12-for-18 passing for 147 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Leners tallied seven receptions for 106 yards. McCartney led the Knights in the rushing with 52 yards on 13 carries. Knights were held to 94 yards on the ground and 241 yards overall.
Knights are now 0-2 to start the season and will play the Ellsworth Bearcats at home next week. Minneapolis advances to 2-0 for the season and will host the Beloit Trojans next Friday.