There's an old adage that goes, "Sometimes, I'd rather be lucky than good."
Well, the Burnsville football team was both Oct. 28 in its Class 6A playoff opener. The third-seeded Blaze rallied for a 21-14 home win over sixth-seeded Stillwater, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Two big plays were the difference in the game. The first came on the Blaze's first play of the second half, a 51-yard touchdown pass to senior Jake Shepley that tied the game at 7-7.
Senior quarterback Isiaah Harston launched a long pass down the middle of the field into double coverage. Shepley leaped for it, but it was over his head. The ball bounced off a defender, looked like it deflected off Shepley's younger brother Marcus and then straight back to Shepley, who ran the final 20 yards untouched for the score.
That gave the Blaze's life after a being down 7-0 at the break. Tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter, Harston came up with the second big play. He blocked a punt and senior DeShawn Wallace scooped it up and took it about 15 yards to the Ponies' 4-yard line.
Senior Steph Olson scored from there, his second touchdown of the game, to give the Blaze a 21-14 lead with 7:55 to play. Burnsville's defense did the rest.
“Those big plays shifted things, and that’s what good teams do,” Blaze head coach Tyler Krebs told the Minnesota Football Hub. “Good teams continue to grind and find a way, and we were able to take advantage of a couple opportunities.”
The No. 9-ranked Blaze (7-2) will take on second-seeded Minnetonka (7-2), ranked No. 8, on the road Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. The winner earns a spot in the Class 6A state quarterfinals Nov. 10 or 11 versus the winner of sixth-ranked Blaine (7-2) and Prior Lake (5-4).
For complete 6A brackets, go to www.mshsl.org. Last year, Burnsville earned its first state berth since 1995.
Meanwhile, against Stillwater, senior Jackson Martens and Olson started to take the game over in the second half on both sides of the ball. Martens finished with 135 yards on the ground, including some tough, physical runs in the final quarter.
Olson's first touchdown run was also from four yards out and that came 50 seconds into the final quarter that tied the game at 14-14.
Stillwater used a 63-yard scoring run in the third quarter to lead 14-7. That play was really the only offense for the Ponies in the second half. Burnsville's defensive line started to wear down Stillwater and Olson and Martens came on blitzes in the fourth quarter that disrupted multiple plays.
Senior defensive lineman Nick Burton had a strong game in the trenches for the Blaze.
To see more photos of the Blaze's win over Stillwater click here http://www.swnewsmedia.com/savage_pacer/football-burnsville-vs-stillwater/collection_56bb0dad-f714-57ec-9dda-4367edfe5a93.html.
Class 6A State Poll
1. Totino Grace, 2. Eden Prairie, 3. Rosemount, 4. Lakeville North, 5. Maple Grove, 6. Blaine, 7. East Ridge, 8. Minnetonka, 9. Burnsville, 10. Cretin-Derham Hall
Blaze 2016 Schedule
Sept. 1: at Roseville, W, 20-14
Sept. 9: vs. Lakeville South, W, 14-7 (OT)
Sept. 16: at Lakeville North, L, 28-7
Sept. 23: vs. Apple Valley, W 31-21
Sept. 30: at Farmington, W, 31-23
Oct. 7: vs. Eagan, W, 35-0
Oct. 14: at Rosemount, L, 21-0.
Oct. 19: vs. Eastview, W, 27-7
Oct. 28: vs Stillwater (playoffs), W, 21-14
Nov. 4: at Minnetonka (playoffs), 7 p.m.