by Tom Yelle

Buoyed by a stifling defense that contained one of the Northwest Suburban’s most potent offenses and the fourth-quarter running of junior backs Antonio Ford and Mo Ward, Coon Rapids claimed a 21-7 Friday night home victory over Andover .

Andover , ranked No. 10 coming into Week 6 of the season, was limited to just one touchdown and less than 100 yards rushing by a determined Coon Rapids defense.

Simultaneously, quarterback Tyler Finnes, who has shown a proficiency in running and passing the football through the season’s first five weeks, was contained on the ground, then harassed as a passer. He did connect for more than 140 yards passing, but most were short shots that were also contained by the Coon Rapids secondary.

Perhaps the most telling defensive statistic of all was the fact Coon Rapids stopped Andover on 10 of 12 third-down plays and several other fourth-down situations. And it was this determined defense, which early in the fourth quarter came up with the game’s defining, albeit most controversial play.

Just when it appeared Andover would find its offensive stride as it approached midfield, a Finnes pass to the left side and his receiver, Jake Wagner, was blown up by Coon Rapids defensive back Dom Reff.

A junior, Reff literally doubled over the tall, but lean Wagner (6-foot-3, 165 pounds) right in front of the Andover bench. In the process of saving his torso from snapping at the waist line — while on his knees — Wagner let go of the football to brace his backside with his hand.

It seemed innocent enough, but innocent it was not: there was no whistle ending the play.

Realizing the situation and seizing the opportunity was Coon Rapids ‘ Bruno Simic, who promptly picked up the ball and stumbled to the 38-yard line. In the end after the officials huddled to discuss their views on the play, it was ruled a fumble.

And from that point in the game on it became the Ward-Ford show for Coon Rapids .

Ward, who did not see much first-half action, took the first hand off following the turnover and sliced across the field from right to left before stepping out of bounds at Andover ‘s 8-yard line. On first and goal, Ford then knifed his way into the end zone over the final eight yards for the touchdown that broke a 7-7 tie.

Ford also scored Coon Rapids ‘ first touchdown in the first quarter on the team’s first possession of the game — a 61-yard drive over 13 plays — from the one. He also scored Coon Rapids ‘ third touchdown later in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard run through the middle on his way to a 150-plus-yard night of rushing on more than two dozen carries.

In contrast, Ward carried the ball far fewer times, but finished just under 70 yards rushing. He had close to a 12-yards-per-carry average in the second half alone.

Andover , which plays at undefeated Blaine in Week 7, fell to 5-1 in the Northwest Suburban Suburban standings. The only touchdown it was able to score against Coon Rapids ‘ defense came in the first quarter when Finnes kept and slipped in from the 16-yard line — his longest run of the game.

Meantime, Coon Rapids , which had lost to Champlin Park, then Blaine in its previous two games, improved to 4-2 and moved back into the running for the No. 2-seeded position for the Section 7AAAAA playoffs.


Highlight videos of the Andover vs Coon Rapids game courtesy of Coon Rapids Sports on YouTube


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