The Andover Huskies (8-2) jumped out to a 17-0 first half lead and appeared on their way to an easy victory before a thrilling comeback by the Coon Rapids Cardinals (6-4).  Trailing 17-0 and unable to run the ball effectively Coon Rapids turned to the arm of quarterback Alex Aase (Jr) and he did not disappoint.  Behind a handful of Aase completions the Coon Rapids offense came to life marching down the field and into field goal range.  As the first half expired kicker Josh Hrab (Jr) split the uprights from 35 yards out making the score 17-3.  More importantly though it set the tone for what would become an exciting second half.

Building off the momentum of that final first half drive Coon Rapids forced an Andover punt and took over possession at midfield.  Facing a 3rd and long Aase rolled to his right and slinged a pass to Bill Holder (Sr) for 15 yards and a first down keeping the drive alive.  Running back Antonio Ford (Jr), who had been kept under wraps to this point, then sliced his way 12 yards to the Andover 26 yard line.  From there Aase would deliver his best throw of the game to wide receiver Tom Hansen (Sr) who had gotten behind the secondary.  Aase and Hansen had failed to connect long on a few previous occasions but this time Hansen laid out in the back of the endzone and came up with the catch for a touchdown pulling Coon Rapids to within a touchdown at 17-10.

Things would go from bad to worse on Andover’s next possession when quarterback Tyler Finnes (Sr), under pressure, rushed a pitch to the running back.  The ball skipped past free and Coon Rapids linebacker Jake Sederstrom (Sr) dove and recovered it for the Cardinals at the Andover 36 yard line.  The excitement was short-lived however as Coon Rapids gave the ball right back to Andover.  On their first play following the fumble recovery a botched handoff attempt from Aase to Ford resulted in a fumble and Andover recovered it.  The turnover put a halt to the momentum Coon Rapids had built up but it was only temporary.

With the ball on their own 43 yard line Tyler Finnes threw a laser to wide receiver Jake Wagner (Sr) who caught the ball in stride and turned up field.  Wagner raced down the sideline for 48 yards before being brought down at the Coon Rapids 9 yard line.  From there the Cardinal defense would stiffen forcing a field goal attempt from kicker Tyler McLaughlin (Jr).  McLaughlin, who had already kicked a 23 yard field goal on Andover’s first possession of the game, hooked this one to the left and missed from 27 yards out.

As the game moved into the 4th quarter neither offense was able to move the ball for the next few possessions as the defenses took control.  Facing a 4th and long from the Andover 45 yard line Coon Rapids lined up to punt in an effort to control field position.  As quarterback Alex Aase took the snap from center defensive lineman Tyler Hartmann (Jr) saw an open lane and went for it and was able to reach Aase and block the punt giving Andover the ball at the Coon Rapids 41 yard line.  But the Cardinals defense, as they had done the entire 2nd half, wouldn’t budge at all and forced them to punt.

Down 17-10 the Coon Rapids offense came to life again.  Aase hit Holder over the middle for 15 yards, then Ford saw a lane and sprinted through it for 21 yards and again for another 13 yards, finally Aase threw a quick slant to Sean Bush (Jr) who cut his way for 20 yards to the Andover 4 yard line.  Ford finished the drive leaping into the endzone from a yard out pulling Coon Rapids to within a point at 17-16.  The extra point would tie it and likely send the game into overtime considering how the defenses were playing but it was not meant to be.  Facing the wind Josh Hrab pushed the kick wide of the right upright and missed the extra point.

Coon Rapids got the ball back and were within striking distance after driving inside the Andover 30 yard line, but with less than 30 seconds to go Aase’s desperation pass was intercepted at the 1 yard line by defensive back Tyler Bridgeman (Jr) to seal the game.  For Coon Rapids quarterback Alex Aase finished the game 19-for-37 for 189 yards and a touchdown.  Running back Antonio Ford rushed 21 times for 124 yards and a touchdown.  For Andover quarterback Tyler Finnes finished the game 13-for-23 for 145 yards and a rushing touchdown.  Running back Camden Briggity (So) rushed 26 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Andover advances to the Section 7AAAAA Championship where they will face the top seeded, and unbeaten, Blaine Bengals next Friday at 7:00pm.

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

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