Blaine won its third straight game and posted a season-high points total in a 42-20 win at Centennial Oct. 11.
The Bengals (5-2) have things going the right direction after back-to-back losses to good Osseo and Maple Grove programs in weeks three and four.
Since then the Bengals have dominated Coon Rapids 41-14 and escaped with a 20-14 win against Champlin Park Oct. 4.
Coach Tom Develice said the wins are a result of steady improvement each week during practice. “They’re working hard at practice with the right attitude and mentality,” he said.
The positive attitude was tested on the opening play of the game after Centennial jumped on a fumbled kick return to set up the Cougars first score.
“They did a great job not flinching and the defense came in and said, ‘Not a big deal,’” Develice said of the team’s collective ability to regroup after the early miscue. “Centennial scored, but they didn’t point fingers and we just moved on from there.”
Blaine responded with a pair of one-yard touchdown runs from running back Nate Kroutil and quarterback Alex Copa. Kroutil finished with 135 yards and Copa had 112 yards rushing and each had two rushing touchdowns.
Kroutil scored from 13 yards out, 3:45 from halftime to give the visiting Bengals a 21-14 lead at the break.
Copa made it 28-14 after he broke free for a 50-yard touchdown on the opening possession of the second half. The Bengals captain found Zach Wylie on a 17-yard passing touchdown to go up 35-14 with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter. Copa completed five of 13 passes for 72 yards. He’s completed passes at a 47 percent rate with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Copa’s legs lead the Bengals with 748 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns. Kroutil has seven touchdowns and averages 7.3 yards with 78 fewer carries than Copa.
Develice said the lack of passes was a combination of the windy conditions and the success of the running game by the offensive line.
“The o-line did a good job opening some holes and we got some big gains and we just wanted to keep up with that,” Develice said. “We rotate seven guys in the five spots and as a collective group, they do a good job and have a run-first mentality. They pride themselves on getting the work done up front.”
Blaine’s defense came up with some big stops throughout the game including senior linebacker Caleb Butler returning an interception 25 yards for the first interception touchdown of his career. The fourth-quarter score extended Blaine’s lead to 42-14.
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