With a powerful late-game gust, the Tornadoes swept the Huskies off the Andover gridiron Friday night, returning to Anoka with a hard-earned 27-20 victory.
The Huskies started the game out strong, coming out aggressively and scoring the game’s first touchdown on a quick Connor Wilkie to Justin Freyholtz pass.
The Tornadoes counterpunched with a balanced attack and tied the game on a 40-yard Malcolm Seals to Jimmy Baehr touchdown pass.
The Huskies then dominated play action again and Wilkie and Freyholtz connected with a 57-yard touchdown pass, entering halftime with a 14-7 lead over the Tornadoes.
But Anoka burst out of the locker room with renewed vigor and James Beard raced downfield with a 71-yard kick-off return.
That momentum propelled the Tornadoes into the end zone to tie the game 14-14.
“We just had to eliminate the trouble, eliminate the mistakes made earlier and play with more confidence,” said Anoka’s head coach Jeff Buerkle, describing the fuel that fed the fire in the Tornadoes’ second-half play action.
The Tornado terror continued for a second touchdown, but Anoka’s missed kicked seemed to re-energize the Huskies and Andover scored its third touchdown of the game and, missing the kick, tied it up again.
Soon enough, Anoka gained a second life and scored the go-ahead touchdown.
But Andover refused to give up and, giving a last gasp, rushed toward the end zone with a balanced attack of pass plays and runs.
The Huskies’ last-ditch effort – a play pass – was deflected in the end zone and fell incomplete, allowing the Tornadoes to escape Husky territory victorious.
“Anoka’s always a tough, physical team and their run game was really good in the fourth,” said Huskies head coach Rich Wilkie. “But our kids kept battling. They played tough. They never let up. That’s just the way the game is. It is what it is.”
Next, the Huskies travel to Coon Rapids this Friday, determined to demonstrate winning ways.
“Coon Rapids is always well-coached and they’ve got good athletes over there. It’ll be a good game and we’re both 0-2… somebody will get a win this week,” Wilkie said, anticipating the Husky-Cardinal match-up.
Meanwhile, Anoka hosts Totino-Grace, and Buerkle expects a tough match there, too.
“They are very fast, very strong, always well-prepared… It’ll be one of those battles,” Buerkle said. “We’ve really got to be on top of things. We’ll have to play our best game – give it our best and see what happens.”
Notes from the sidelines
Other Northwest Suburban and North Suburban Conference games played out like this:
Coon Rapids 14,
St. Francis 6,
Park Center 19
Spring Lake Park 16,
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 0
Sue Austreng is at