Eden Prairie streak ends
Blaine rallies in 2nd half against 2-time defending state champs
McClatchy News Services
ST. PAUL — Blaine pulled off what many figured to be the impossible on Thursday night as the Bengals (10-1) ended Eden Prairie’s winning streak at 39 games with a 28-24 victory over the two-time defending champs in the Class AAAAA football state quarterfinals at Griffin Stadium.
Bengals quarterback James Peterson, who threw and ran the ball with authority all game, connected with wide receiver Mike Thai on a 63-yard touchdown pass with less than five minutes to play as the Bengals stormed back from a 17-7 halftime deficit.
"It feels fantastic,’’ Peterson said of ending the Eagles’ winning streak. "It couldn’t be better timing, proving that they are human.’’
Peterson (6-3, 202) clearly was the best player on the field, all but willing his team to victory. A victory he refused to call an upset.
"Our coaches were telling us all week it would be an upset if we lost,’’ Peterson said. "We played with a lot of heart. We really wanted this.’’
Blaine coach Shannon Gerrety said he couldn’t be more proud of his team or his quarterback.
"He’s phenomenal,’’ Gerrety said. "I’ve been telling people all along. He has been a difference-maker in every game we have played this season.
"And he’s a humble kid, a good kid. Good things happen for good people.’’
The Bengals’ late touchdown came on a broken play, with Peterson looking as if he was about to be sacked. But he fought off a couple of defenders and found Thai all alone deep down the field.
"That’s not the first time he has done that,’’ Gerrety said. "He bounces off that stuff. We have things to do on broken plays. We work on those things.’’
Peterson said he knew he had a receiver downfield, but Thai made it easier.
"He was more or less doing jumping jacks down there,’’ Peterson said. "So I was, ‘All right, I guess I will throw it to you.’’’
Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant gave all the credit to Blaine for ending the streak.
"A team was going to have to play great to beat us, and Blaine played great. We knew we weren’t as good as we were last season, and that our margin of error wasn’t as big as it used to be.’’