by Tom Yelle
Staff writer

For the record, Coon Rapids prevailed in its opening Northwest Suburban Conference game of the 2010 season Sept. 2 with Park Center thanks to a pair of superlative offensive efforts and some timely ball-control when it counted during the second half.

But it was hardly as easy as the final 14-point, 34-20 difference in the score suggested.

Without the services of its lead running back Antonio Ford, who missed the Thursday night opener because of a knee injury sustained during the pre-season, Coon Rapids was able to win thanks in great part to the 150 yards and three touchdowns provided by Mo Ward and the 51 yards in catches and two touchdowns turned in by Malcolm Farley.

Still, it was completed in come-from-behind fashion.

Park Center took a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter, which Coon Rapids matched and one-upped with a successful extra-point kick by Josh Hrab. Park Center regained the lead early in the second quarter, 12-7, but junior quarterback Alex Aase in his first varsity start led Coon Rapids back into scoring position before Ward scored from the two for a 14-12 lead.

Park Center had the final say of the first half, however, as its fleet-of-foot running back Rufus Saylee ripped into the open and scored from 48 yards out to make it 18-14. A successful two-point conversion play enabled Park Center to recoup some missed points earlier in the half for a 20-14 halftime edge.

The six-point deficit was not much at halftime for Coon Rapids, but the players and coaches were keenly aware that if one of Park Center’s speedy offensive players got into the open again, that deficit would suddenly double.

Coon Rapids, subsequently, ground it out in the third quarter and was able to forge a 20-20 tie on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ward.

Even so, it appeared Coon Rapids would have to continue in a comeback mode. On the first play of the fourth quarter,  Park Center quarterback Michael Hintze kept on a sweep, found a seam and dashed 61 yards up the field to the end zone.

Before the officials allowed points to be put on the board, however, the Hintze run through Coon Rapids’ defense was wiped out by a Park Center holding penalty. The ball was brought back to a spot near the 40-yard line and Park Center — which had moved and scored in lightning-like fashion during the first half — was done.

For the night!

Two penalties, then a mishandled snap by the Park Center punter, gave Coon Rapids the ball at the 11-yard line and two plays later Aase hooked up with Farley for nine yards and the go-ahead touchdown. Ward then capped his night inside the final two minutes with a five-yard touchdown slant into the end zone after Park Center failed on another fourth-down attempt.


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