Cooper’s Phillip Howard led two first-half scoring drives, but Mahtomedi shut-out the Hawks in the second half in a 20-14 playoff loss. (Photo courtesy of Jamie Stoia)

Cooper’s football season came to quick end in the postseason on a surprising play.

Mahtomedi used a flee flicker to put up an 80-yard touchdown pass, which led to Cooper’s season-ending 20-14 loss at home in the Class 5A Section 4 semifinals on Saturday, Oct. 25. It ended season where the Hawks (5-4) had a winning record an a No. 2 seed in the section.

“They beat us with a broken coverage twice,” Hawks coach Willie Howard said of the Zephyrs’ play.

The Hawks had rallied furiously at the end of the first half to take a 14-8 lead into the locker room, but they could not score in the second half. Levonte Taylor put the Hawks on the board for the first time in the second quarter at 2:09 with a 28-yard TD run, and Howard ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game 8-8. Alonzo Hollie put the Hawks ahead when he punched in a 2-yard TD run at 1:26 in the quarter.

“Offensively, we put them in a position to be successful, and we just couldn’t convert,” Howard said.

The Hawks looked to rally in the fourth quarter after the Zephyrs’ go-ahead score with a couple first-down runs by Levonte Taylor, including one on third down. Armany Smith also caught a 9-yard pass on the promising drive.

However, the penalty bug stung the Hawks again and put them in a 2nd-and-25 situation. A play later, the Zephyrs picked off a Howard pass.

Cooper got another shot in the final seconds after the defense made a stop. Unfortunately, the Hawks found themselves in a pickle – 49.2 seconds and no timeouts from their own 3-yard line following a Zephyrs punt. Howard and company could not get down field as they turned over on downs in the season-ending loss.

Cooper defensive players Jachai McNeil (No. 8), Alonzo Hollie (No. 28) and Robert Watson (No. 69) go after a Mahtomedi ball carrier in hopes to stop what became a game-tying touchdown on Saturday, Oct. 25. The Hawks fell to the Zephyrs 20-14. (Sun Post staff photo by Matthew Davis)

Royals return to Lakeville North

Thus far, there has been only one low spot in the Hopkins High football season, and that came the first week when the Royals lost 39-13 at Lakeville North.

As fate would have it, the Royals will return to Lakeville North at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, to meet the Panthers in a playoff game. The winner will move on to the final eight, while the loser will pack away the gear for another season.

Hopkins jumped to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter with two TDs and a field goal. Zach Savitz kicked a 32-yard field goal, then Tyler Lee hit Kevion McDonald on a 14-yard touchdown pass play. Lee found Bill Atkins for a 34-yard touchdown strike on the next possession.

Edina closed the gap to 24-17 at halftime, thanks to a 42-yard touchdown pass play. Hopkins fans couldn’t believe what happened next. Edina scored three touchdowns to take a 36-24 lead.

Before the end of the third quarter, Hopkins found a path back to the end zone. A pass play from Lee to Taj Winston, good for 69 yards, did the trick. Edina’s lead narrowed to 36-31 after Savitz nailed the extra point.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Hopkins took it in for another score. Lee found his 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end Kyle Johnson with a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Royals back on top 37-36. A two-point conversion failed, but it didn’t matter. Hopkins earned a chance to move on in the playoffs.

Breck shutout by Providence Academy in playoffs

A a rare sight took place in the Section 2AAA football playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 25 – Breck fell in a shutout loss.

The Golden Valley school, known for its quarterbacks and offense, fell 7-0 to rival Providence Academy in their third meeting of the season. They met twice during the regular season due to the scheduling with the six-team Independent Metro Athletic Conference.

The Mustangs fell to the Lions in the previous two meetings, both high-scoring contests. Henry Van Dellen put the Lions up 7-0 in the first quarter of the Oct. 25 playoff game on a 27-yard connection to Matt Richelsen.

“Once they get a lead, they can kind of control the ball,” Mustangs coach John Martin said. “They’ve got a good running game that kind of controls the clock, and we didn’t make enough plays offensively to counter-act that.”

It turned out to be the only scoring as both defenses stuffed the run and contained the pass. Mustangs QB Graydon Kulick returned to the team after being out with pneumonia in the Tuesday, Oct. 21 victory over Minneapolis Henry, 39-20.

Kulick took deep shots toward the end zone in the final quarter but to no avail. Providence’s Conor White picked off a Kulick pass intended to Bryce Johnson late in the fourth to seal the win.

Breck ended its season at 6-4, and three of its four losses came against the Lions (8-0).

Falcons end at 3-6 in playoffs

Considering where Armstrong’s football program stood a year ago at this time, the Falcons have made significant progress under first-year head coach Jack Negen.

In 2013, the Falcons went 0-9 after a one-win season the year before. Since an 0-3 start this season, they went 3-3, including a 54-0 loss at No. 2 seed Prior Lake in the Class 6A Section 6 playoffs on Friday, Oct. 24.

Thomas Barber had another big game on defense with 17 tackles, and he had 57 yards rushing on offense with eight carries. Overall, the Falcons mustered 197 yards of total offense. The Lakers jumped ahead quickly with 17-0 first quarter and never looked back.

Nonetheless, all four teams that have shutout Armstrong this season (Spring Lake Park, Prior Lake, Blaine and Osseo) are playing for section titles on Friday night. Moreover, the Falcons lost 14-0 to Blaine before garnering back-to-back victories, including one over a White Bear Lake team that stunned powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall on Oct. 24 in the playoffs.

While the Falcons graduate their share of seniors, they will have key players returning for next year such as Barber, True Thompson, Jack Leius and Collis Barber.

Pirates playoff voyage ends on the island

After dismantling Fridley in the opening round of the section Class 4A Section 6 playoffs, Park Center face a much steeper challenge in No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked DeLaSalle (7-1) on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The Pirates kept up with the Islanders through the first quarter, trailing 14-7. Karl Altenburg threw a pass to Adam Buirge, which he took 67 yards to cut a 14-0 deficit in half. However, the Islanders took over in the second quarter with 27 unanswered points and ran away with the game, 61-13.

The Pirates ended the season at 5-5 overall. With a small group of seniors graduating and plenty of returning talent, Head coach Paul Strong and the Pirates look to build toward a successful 2015.

Brooklyn Center falls to Maple Lake in semifinals

Brooklyn Center’s football team had hope to build on its dominating 48-6 victory in the quarterfinals of the Section 4AA playoffs over Concordia Academy on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Maple Lake, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, did not allow the Centaurs to run all over the field as they did to the Beacons. The Centaurs’ postseason run ended in a 68-14 loss on Saturday, Oct. 25.

After Maple Lake jumped out to a 27-0 first quarter lead, Tyrell Beasley scored the lone offensive TD of the game for the Centaurs in the second quarter. Jason Barto returned a fumble for a TD 65 yards in the third quarter.

“They had kids that were ready to play,” Centaurs coach Willie Finley said of Maple Lake. “They were big across the front.”

The Centaurs ended the season at 4-6 under Finley in his second year. Brooklyn Center doubled its win total and won a playoff game after making a first-round exit in 2013.

Contact Matthew Davis at matthew.davis@ecm-inc.com

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