For the second straight week, No. 2 Lakeville South came up big in the fourth quarter.
And the Cougars remain unbeaten.
Connor Cade scored twice in the final 12 minutes, Lakeville South’s defense made a pair of second-half defensive stands and the Cougars held off visiting Eagan 27-14 Thursday.
Last Friday, Lakeville South scored 10 points in the final 63 seconds, including a 31-yard Jack Kimmel field goal at the buzzer, to beat crosstown rival Lakeville North 24-21.
“We’ve proven to be a good fourth-quarter team; we’d like to be a good first-, second-, third- and fourth-quarter team,” said coach Ben Burk. “We’re growing.”
Burk acknowledged his team’s tackling left room for improvement, but it was the defense that set the 4-0 Cougars up with a short field for the winning points and the icing-on-the-cake score.
“We made some minor changes on the D-line, but other than that, we just had to identify what they were doing and make the play,” said linebacker Brett Johnson.
Tied at 14 late in the third quarter, Eagan was stuffed by Mitch Rateliff and Josh Bergan on a fourth-and 2. Bergan, a sophomore who’s added 35 pounds to his frame since last year’s wrestling season, finished with 15 tackles, five solo.
Eagan coach Nick Johnson had no second thoughts about going for it at that point in the game and again later. “This is the kind of game where you don’t know if you’re ever going to get the ball back,” he said.
Taking over at the Eagan 45, the Cougars gained 16 yards on two carries before Cade burst through the seam and went untouched to the end zone for a 21-14 lead.
The Wildcats knew a ground-and-pound, clock-eating offense would be needed for its second straight win over a top-10 team. Last week, Eagan dominated then-No. 9 Rosemount 17-6.
Tate Gage was again the bell cow for Eagan with 26 carries for 92 yards. Brooklyn Evans ran for 113 yards on seven carries, including 23- and 53-yard scores.
Eagan finished with 301 yards rushing; Lakeville South 249.
Starting at its own 13 early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats ran the ball 11 straight times to get to the Cougars 26. However, a personal foul two plays later — just Eagan’s second penalty — led to a fourth-and-23 situation. After an incompletion Lakeville South took over at its own 40.
It was quickly déjà vu as Cade dashed up the middle and across the goal line, this time from 60 yards away.
His team playing without two of its top ground gainers, Cade rushed for 156 yards. Bo Bokmon added 56 and Gabe Jacobson 36.
“We have five good backs that can rotate in the game. We can keep going,” said Bokmon. “Cade’s a dog.”
Owen Ford had two interceptions for the Eagan (2-2), which after some lean years is no longer a program intimidated by a perennial power.
“Now you got to find a way to get over the hump,” Johnson said.
Cade scored from the 5 with 45.2 seconds left before intermission for a 14-7 lead. Jacobson plowed in from the 3 less than 2 minutes into the game.
But Eagan countered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by Evans going around right side for a 23-yard score to tie the game 7-7. He scored on a similar play — this time going 53 yards — early in the third quarter.