Rosemount served notice early this wasn’t going to be like last time the two South Suburban Conference rivals played.
The underdog Irish, who dropped a 35-0 decision to Lakeville North to end the regular season, stunned the favored Panthers with a 68-yard, 12-play scoring drive to open the game and to grab a 7-0 lead.
But after spotting that early touchdown, the Panthers dominated the contest defensively and rolled to a 28-7 triumph Thursday in the Class 6A state football semifinals in the Metrodome.
The win puts the Lakeville North Panthers (11-1) into the Class 6A finals against the winner of tonight’s Eden Prairie (9-2) vs. Wayzata (9-1) game. The state championship contest will be Nov. 23 in the Metrodome, starting at 7 p.m.
Rosemount (7-5) ends its season with the loss in the state semifinals, a game few expected the Irish to reach. Rosemount knocked off Lakeville South and Stillwater in the sections and then top-seeded Edina 14-10 to advance to the 6A semifinals.
After giving up 68 yards on the opening drive, the Panthers allowed just 35 total yards the rest of the game. Lakeville North’s offense, meanwhile, also got better and better as the game wore on.
Lakeville North scored twice in the second quarter, the first on a 1-yard run by Jamiah Newell and the second time on an 8-yard fumble recovery by Mitch Johnson.
Leading 14-7, the Panthers put the game away with two fourth-quarter scores.
Lakeville North outgained Rosemont 329 to 103 yards.
Rosemount’s Irish took the opening kickoff and marched 68 yards with senior running back Ali Al-Khatib scoring from the 1-yard line. After that, however, nothing the Irish tried on offense worked. Rosemount got the ball 11 more times, but was forced to punt on nine processions, lost a fumble and had one drive stopped on downs.
Lakeville North’s Johnson rambled for a score after a fumble by Irish quarterback Jackson Erdman and returned it 12 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with just under three minutes left in the first half.
Both teams had some difficulty holding onto the football as there were six fumbles in the game, with each team losing one.
But little by little, the Lakeville North offense ground the Irish down. Lakeville North outgained Rosemount 181 yards to 20 on the ground and 148-83 in the air.
Newell led the Panther rushing attack, going 14 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Creighton was 13-for-19 passing for 148 yards and one touchdown, plus running 19 times for 68 yards.
Quarterback Jackson Erdman of Rosemount was harassed the entire game by the Lakeville North defense. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 83 yards, but was sacked five times.
Rosemount 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Lakeville North 0 14 0 14 -- 28
ROSEMOUNT -- Ali Al-Khatib 1 run (Sam Broback kick) 6:40
LAKEVILLE -- Jamiah Newell 1 run (Hunter Cobb kick) 7:16
LAKEVILLE – Mitch Johnson 8 fumble recovery (Hunter Cobb kick) 2:59
LAKEVILLE -- Brandon Morgan 33 yd pass from Zach Creighton (Hunter Cobb kick) 10:10
LAKEVILLE -- Jamiah Newell 53 yd run (Hunter Cobb kick) 4:56.