November 18, 2017 12:00 AM
Elk River moves onto to the Class AAAAA championship game for the second consecutive season on the strength of an explosive running game in a 51-40 victory over Apple Valley in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
The Elks (11-1) rolled up 700 rushing yards and averaged 11.7 yards per carry in earning a chance to defend its Class AAAAA title. Junior running back Adam Nelson led the way with 302 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns in a matchup where the teams traded touchdowns throughout. Senior Sherrod Kpahn added 144 yards on 15 carries and senior quarterback Mitchell Stroh had 106 yards on nine carries. Kpahn and Stroh had a touchdown each. The Elks did not attempt a pass.
After Apple Valley (10-2) took a 33-32 lead on an 56-yard passing play from senior quarterback Tyler Cordella to senior wide receiver Nathan Macho, Elk River answered with 10 points to take the lead for good. Kpahn had a 4-yard touchdown run and then Brock Hildenbrand made a 25-yard field goal.
Cardella paced Apple Valley, completing 18 of 23 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Kellen McKeag rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries and scored Apple Valley’s first touchdown.
Both teams alternated touchdowns in the first half that ended with Elk River holding a 32-26 advantage. Nelson rushed for 255 yards on 11 carries and scored three touchdowns in the first half. He averaged 23.2 yards per carry, and had an 80-yard scoring run with 3:30 left in the second quarter.
Elk River rushed for 391 yards in the first half and didn’t attempt a pass.
McKeag led Apple Valley with 101 yards rushing on 13 carries and scored the Eagles’ first TD. Senior quarterback Tyler Cardella completed 11 of 14 passes for 115 yards and TD.
Updated: November 18, 2017 12:00 AM
Created: November 17, 2017 07:09 PM
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