By Howard Voigt
MINNEAPOLIS -- Blue Earth Area (13-0) broke open a close game by scoring the final 23 points to claim a 30-7 win over Rochester Lourdes and the Class AAA championship at Prep Bowl XXXI at the Metrodome. The win for the Buccaneers, who were ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, represents the school's first state football championship.
Blue Earth Area junior David Franta opened the scoring midway through the second quarter by rambling 79 yards for a touchdown. Following a successful PAT and kickoff, Rochester Lourdes sophomore running back Griff Slightam knotted the score on the next play from scrimmage with a 67-yard touchdown run.
Shortly before halftime, the Buccaneers reclaimed the lead with a seven-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Kysten Zierke to senior Isaac Darrington. That nine-play, 80-yard drive made the halftime score 13-7 in favor of Blue Earth Area.
Senior kicker Felix Harseim booted a 36-yard field goal to open the second-half scoring and extend the Buccaneers lead to 16-7. Senior receiver Isaac Darrington hauled in a 10-yard touchdown pass and Franta scored his second rushing touchdown to give Blue Earth Area the final margin of victory.
Franta rushed 13 times for 144 yards and the two touchdowns for the Buccanneers. Zierke passed for 68 yards and added 58 yards rushing for Blue Earth Area.
Rochester Lourdes, the top-ranked team in the final Class AAA Associated Press poll, finished the season with a record of 13-1.