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Woodbury football: Royals fall 34-7 to Prior Lake in state qualifier

Tears were abundant Friday among Woodbury seniors after the Royals' 34-7 loss to Prior Lake. Here, senior Daniel Marquardt listens as head coach Andy Hill addresses the team in a post-game speech. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 2
Woodbury senior Kyle Schmidt (55) left the field Friday after a loss to Prior Lake in a section playoff game where the winner advanced to the state football tournament. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 2

Andy Hill predicted turnovers would be a critical factor going into Friday's game against Prior Lake.

He wasn't wrong.

The Lakers - led by one-man wrecking crew Blake Weber - capitalized on a bevy of costly Woodbury turnovers in their 34-7 victory that advanced them into the state Class 6A tournament.

"If you're not conservative and turn it over, you don't beat the conservative team," Hill said after the road game played at Dan Patch Stadium. "My frustration is very high."

The Royals turned the ball over seven times in the season-ending game that put an end to the high school football careers of 28 Woodbury seniors.

Among them was running back Quran Al-Hameed, who was hobbled in the second half by a calf injury.

"I felt like I let (the team) down," the standout running back said after the game.

The truth is Woodbury's woes began well before Al-Hameed got hurt.

Prior Lake jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 7:02 left in the first quarter after Woodbury senior Keyshawn Lee fumbled a punt return, giving the Lakers excellent field position. Weber scampered in for a touchdown on the ensuing series.

Weber, a junior for the Lakers, tacked on another score on Prior Lake's next series after running in an 84-yard touchdown.

"It gave them momentum in a game where we knew we had to take it away," Hill said of the game's first quarter.

Prior Lake scored its third touchdown with 41 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 70-yard passing score that gave the Lakers a 21-0 lead.

The Royals put a scare in the Lakers in the second quarter on a fourth-and-six play when Prior Lake called a timeout. The Lakers came out in punt-return formation with the game clock running, prompting Hill to send his offensive unit back onto the field. Quarterback Sawyer Moon completed a 63-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Tucker Benjamin on the play, representing Woodbury's lone score for the night.

Woodbury's defense clamped down for much of the next two quarters, but errors on offense led to costly turnovers as the Royals entered Prior Lake territory. Weber, who also plays linebacker for the Lakers, added two interceptions in the game.

Though Woodbury was within one game of the state tournament, Hill said the season ended with a bitter after-taste.

After the game, he reminded the team that it had some shining moments in the 2012 season.

"This isn't one of them," he said.

Hill said he'll be looking for heightened discipline off the field and more off-season commitment moving forward.

"We didn't have the mental toughness aspect to recover in a lot of the games," he said.