Benilde halts Panthers five-game winning streak

No. 4 seed Spring Lake Park blanked No. 5 Robbinsdale Copper 29-0 in the Section 4-AAAAA quarterfinals at Spring Lake Park Oct. 22.

Panthers senior Grant Walter continued to make big plays. He not only blocked a second-quarter punt, but scooped up the loose ball and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown and a 29-0 lead by halftime.

Spring Lake Park’s Grant Walter, middle, tries to spin away from Benilde-St. Margaret’s tacklers in a 31-28 loss to the Red Knights in what was the North Suburban Conference championship game Oct. 16.

Spring Lake Park’s Grant Walter, middle, tries to spin away from Benilde-St. Margaret’s tacklers in a 31-28 loss to the Red Knights in what was the North Suburban Conference championship game Oct. 16.Photo by Bill Jones

Walter, Richie Toweh and Eji Ejiya each had 11 carries as the Panthers rolled up 345 rushing yards on the Hawks. Walter had 71 yards and two touchdowns, while Toweh added 111 yards rushing and Ejiya had 65 yards and one score.

Spring Lake Park won the previous meeting this season, nearly five weeks earlier, 41-20 at Panthers Stadium.

With only four days between games, Spring Lake Park has to prepare to face No. 1 seed Mahtomedi Oct. 25. Mahtomedi beat the Panthers in the season opener 22-15 in Spring Lake Park.

Loss to Benilde

Spring Lake Park had to regroup quickly after its five-game winning streak was snapped in a 31-28 regular season finale loss to Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Panthers Stadium Oct. 16.

The North Suburban Conference will fold at the end of the school-year, marking Benilde-St. Margaret’s with the final conference football title. Spring Lake Park has won the championship several times.

The Panthers finished with a 3-2 record, tied with Fridley and Irondale behind Benilde’s 4-1 record.

Spring Lake Park’s Austin Swenson cuts up field during the Panthers 29-0 win over No. 5 seed Robbinsdale Cooper in Section 4-AAAAA quarterfinals Oct. 22. The No. 4 seeded Panthers face top seed Mahtomedi Oct. 26.

Spring Lake Park’s Austin Swenson cuts up field during the Panthers 29-0 win over No. 5 seed Robbinsdale Cooper in Section 4-AAAAA quarterfinals Oct. 22. The No. 4 seeded Panthers face top seed Mahtomedi Oct. 26. Photo by Nick Clark

Spring Lake Park allowed a season-high 31 points and trailed 17-14 at the half after Benilde’s Samuel Lynch returned a kick-off 85 yards for a touchdown.

Spring Lake Park’s rushing attack responded with a pair of touchdowns by Toweh and Walter on runs of 48 and 13 yards, respectively.

After driving the field for a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter, the Red Knights ended the half with a 32-yard field goal to take the one-score lead into the break.

Walter returned the kick-off favor in the second half with an 81-yard return of his own to retake the lead 21-17.

Benilde senior quarterback Keaton Studsrud threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 62-yard catch-and-run by Lynch to take a 31-21 lead. Panthers senior captain Eji Ejiya scored from 14 yards out to cut the lead to within one score, 31-28.

Ejiya led the Panthers with 188 yards on 17 carries. Walter had 88 yards on 18 carries and Toweh gave the offense a three-headed attack with 70 yards on nine carries.

Ejiya, a starting linebacker alongside Toweh and Walter on defense, had a team-high 19 tackles and two sacks. Antonio Zepada had 11 tackles and Panthers kicker Danny Chelbeck went four-for-four on extra point attempts.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

up arrow