Prep Bowl: Chanhassen tops St. Thomas Academy with 4th down TD in overtime of 5A title game

Prep Bowl: Class 5A Championship – St. Thomas Academy vs. Chanhassen

The 2023 Minnesota high school football season ended with a memorable game as Chanhassen won the Class AAAAA state championship in overtime with a 34-31 win over St. Thomas Academy at U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 25.

The matchup featured two of the top senior running backs in the state, and they showed why.

Maxwell Woods of Chanhassen and St. Thomas Academy’s Savion Hart put on a show, with Woods carrying the ball 20 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns, as Hart rushed 37 times for 239 yards and two scores.

The Chanhassen Storm made history in finishing the season with a record of 13-0; they reached the state football playoffs for the first time and won it all.

St. Thomas Academy is a veteran presence at state, making its 27th appearance this season. The Cadets won the 1975 Class A title and were state runner-up five previous times (2000, 2006, 2015, 2018 and 2019.)

St. Thomas Academy moved the ball efficiently on the first possession of the game, moving from its own 20-yard line in 16 plays before a 27-yard field goal try by Declan Wilson bounced off the goal post.

Chanhassen struck quickly, with Maxwell Woods racing 76 yards for a touchdown on the team’s second play of the game. That gave the Storm a 7-0 lead with 5:02 left in the first quarter.

The Cadets tied the score 7-7 late in the second quarter, with a key play coming on a 22-yard pass from Maximus Sims to Luke Dobbs on fourth-and-18 from the Storm’s 34. On the next play, Savion Hart ran up the middle for a 12-yard touchdown.

Woods showed his explosiveness on the next series, breaking loose on a 58-yard run to the Cadets’ 12-yard line. From there, Woods rushed for three yards, gained eight yards and a first down at the one-yard line, was held to no gain, and quarterback Brayden Windschitl snuck across for a touchdown to give Chanhassen a 14-7 lead with 32 seconds left in the first half.

The Storm extended the lead to 21-7 early in the third quarter, when Woods rushed 10 yards for another score. St. Thomas Academy responded with a 7-yard TD pass from Sims to Dobbs, making it Storm 21, Cadets 14 as the third quarter ended.

With less than five minutes to go in regulation, the Cadets put together a 12-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Hart scoring on a six-yard run. The Cadets went for two but a pass was incomplete, leaving Chanhassen in front 21-20.

The Storm got another big play when Daxton Bush raced around the right side and scored from 62 yards, giving Chanhassen a 28-20 lead with two minutes remaining. The Cadets wasted little time in moving downfield, with Sims throwing to Chase Young for an eight-yard touchdown with 49 seconds on the clock. St. Thomas Academy went for two and the tie, and Hart raced around the right corner to make it 28-28 as the game went into overtime.

The Cadets had the ball first in overtime from the 10-yard line and scored on a 26-yard field goal by Wilson to lead 31-28. Then it was Chanhassen’s turn, and on the first play the ball was knocked out of Woods’ hands but the Storm retained possession. An encroachment penalty on the Cadets moved the ball to the five-yard line on second down and Woods ran to the 2.

Woods fumbled again on third down from there, setting up fourth and goal from the 2. Windschitl threw to Kade Bush for the touchdown, the 34-31 victory and the Storm’s first state championship.