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Prep Bowl XXXII championship: Anderson carries Eagles to three-peat

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Senior Anthony Anderson did the heavy lifting for Eden Prairie in Friday night’s Class 6A Prep Bowl XXXII championship game.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound running back dragged Rosemount defenders around the field as he busted loose for big play after big play while leading the Eagles to their third straight state championship with a 28-7 dissection of the Irish at the Metrodome. Anderson turned a short pass into a 51-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, carried three Rosemount defenders across the goal line for a 15-yard score in the second and spent the second half putting the finishing touches on his 165-yard rushing effort, helping the Eagles run out the clock on their ninth state title since 1996.

“You’ve gotta tackle him low. The first guy has to get him and you have to get help bringing him down. Obviously he is quite an athlete,” said Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann, whose team finished 11-2 and reached the state tournament for the fourth time in seven seasons. “There’s no shame in losing to a team like that. I just wish we would have played better.”

The Irish went three-and-out on their first two possessions and by the time they got the ball again it was 14-0. Eden Prairie got the ball first and scored just over a minute into the game when running back Charlie Venable caught a short third-down pass from Ryan Connelly and raced down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown.

The Eagles moved into the red zone again on their second drive, but Connelly’s fourth-down lob into the end zone was batted down by Carter Yepsen. After the second Rosemount three-and-out, the Eagles quickly scored again on Anderson’s long catch and run. Josh Lanasa’s wide-open two-point conversion catch made it 14-0.

“It’s frustrating that we started so poorly. You can’t do that and get behind the Eight Ball against a team like that,” Erdmann said.

Facing a two-touchdown deficit, the Irish responded with their lone scoring drive of the game. Runs by quarterback Jackson Erdmann and Dimitri Williams, a pass to Tyler Hartigan and an offisides penalty produced first downs and on fourth and a foot Tyrek Cross blasted across the goal line for a four-yard touchdown. The 14-play, 77-yard drive made it 14-7 with 5:41 left in the first half.

Any momentum the Irish gained from the score was quickly extinguished, however, by another sustained Eden Prairie drive. The Eagles started at the 35 and converted four quick first downs to set up Anderson’s second touchdown that made it 21-7 at the break.

The Irish had a couple of chances to make the game interesting in the third quarter, but came up empty on two trips into the red zone. The first came on the opening drive after three first downs moved the ball inside the Eden Prairie five-yard line. Cross was then bottled up at the three on two straight runs up the middle and cut down at the four-yard line on fourth and two.

After forcing Eden Prairie into a three-and-out, the Irish drove back to the 16 before Erdmann’s jump ball into the end zone was batted down on fourth and seven.

“Two times we had a chance inside their 15-yard line and had an opportunity to tighten the game up and we didn’t get it done. Our defense got a stop and we had four chances and we had to get those in,” Erdmann said. “They played back and forced us to drive the ball and we had the one drive where we went a long way and scored. We had penalties that were drive killers and you have to play a perfect game against them. You can’t have that stuff.”

There weren’t many opportunities for the Irish after that. The Eden Prairie offense proved proficient in sitting on its lead, milking the clock for 7 ½ minutes on the ensuing drive. The Eagles ran 15 plays – 14 of which were running plays – before turning the ball over on downs at the Irish five-yard line with 5:30 left.

Two plays later, linebacker Matt Cheesman picked off a tipped pass to set up Dan Fisher’s one-yard touchdown run. The plunge made it 28-7 with 4:35 to go and sent some fans heading toward the exits.

Erdmann threw three incompletions on the next drive and was forced to punt. After running 17 plays in a scoreless third quarter, the Irish ran just six offensive plays in the fourth.

Anderson came out for one final series and rumbled for 19 and 18 yards, respectively, before leaving to a big ovation from the Eden Prairie side.


Eden Prairie outgained Rosemount 403-157… Erdmann ran nine times for 63 yards and completed 7 of 17 passes for 41 yards. He also punted four times for 155 yards… The Irish rushed for a season-low 129 yards on 31 carries and scored a season-low seven points… The 28 points matched Eden Prairie’s season low it scored in a 28-7 win over Minnetonka Oct. 4... Friday's games had a total attendance of 19,671.