The Mahtomedi Zephyrs, unaccustomed to being an underdog team, seem to be relishing the role.
The Zephyrs stunned previously-undefeated Tartan 28-27 in the Section 4AAAA championship game Friday evening, avenging a 41-14 loss to the Titans in conference.
Josh Praml rushed 31 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns from three and six yards. Johnny DeVore passed to Tyler Tangwall for TDs from four and five yards.
The Zephyrs capped the upset by foiling a two-point conversion late in the game.
After a 2-6 regular season, in a program without a losing season since 1981, the Zephyrs are 3-0 in the playoffs. They edged No. 2 seed Minneapolis Washburn 15-12 in the semifinals.
“The boys came out and played really well,” coach Dave Muetzel said. “We took care of the ball, to start with. That’s something we are focusing on. Our defense was really tough against the run, holding them to 19 yards. All eleven guys, swarming to the ball.”
Mahtomedi (5-6) advances to the state quarterfinals against Chaska (9-1) on Saturday, Nov. 9, in Shakopee, at noon.
Tartan was 9-0, outscoring opponents 294 to 79. but Mahtomedi played the Titans dead-even, taking leads of 7-0, 14-7, 21-14 and 21-21, with Tartan responding each time.
DeVore completed nine of 11 for 149 yards. Tengwall caught six for 96 yards. Both are back from injuries. DeVore missed the first two playoff games with a concussion. Tengwall missed six games with a shoulder injury and has three TDs in two games.
Mahtomedi could not stop Tartan junior receiver Dorian Singer, who scored on passes of eight, 66 and nine yards from Brandon Lockhart while notching the other TD on defense with a 29-yard return of a fumble recovery. Singer caught 15 touchdown passes this year.
The first half ended 7-7 with Mahtomedi’s Ethan Loss stopping a Tartan drive with an end-zone interception. Loss also had a 43-yard reception in the game.
Mahtomedi took a 28-21 lead with 2:20 left on Praml’s six-yard run. Zephyr kicker Kyle Oswald, almost automatic this year, booted the all-important extra point. He’s 22-for-24 on XP’s for the season and 4-for-4 on field goals.
Tartan quickly responded with a long pass play and a penalty tacked on, perching them at the Zephyr 14. Lockhart passed to Singer for a nine-yard touchdown with 1:38 left.
Going for two, Lockhart completed a pass, but the receiver had to cut back out of the end zone to make the catch, and a host of Zephyrs brought him down.
Mahtomedi ……… 7 0 7 14 — 28
Tartan ………….…. 0 7 7 13 — 27
Mah — Tyler Tangwall 4 pass from Johnny DeVore (Kyle Oswald kick)
Tar — Dorian Singer 8 pass from Brandon Lockhart (Garrett Kierzek kick)
Mah — Josh Praml 3 run (Oswald kick)
Tar — Singer 66 pass from Lockhart (Kierzek kick)
Mah — Tengwall 5 pass from DeVore (Oswald kick)
Tar — Singer 29 fumble recovery return (Kierzek kick)
Mah — Praml 6 run (Oswald kick)
Tar — Singer 9 pass from Lockhart (run failed)