Prep football playoffs: 'Hounds top Trojans

As far as works of art go, the Duluth East offense Saturday more closely resembled the tortured soul of Vincent Van Gogh than the smooth style of Raphael.

As far as works of art go, the Duluth East offense Saturday more closely resembled the tortured soul of Vincent Van Gogh than the smooth style of Raphael.

But no matter which artist the Greyhounds patterned themselves after, the end result was a pretty picture: East is one victory from playing in its first high school state football tournament.

Matt Kilpo threw two touchdown passes, and the Greyhounds defense shut down crosstown rival Duluth Central for three quarters in a 20-8 win in a Section 7AAAA semifinal at Public Schools Stadium.

The second-seeded Greyhounds committed two first-half turnovers and failed to generate a running game in the opening 24 minutes, but were picture-perfect on their three scoring drives to advance to the section championship game. East (6-4) plays at Hermantown (7-2) Friday at 7 p.m. with the winner qualifying for the Class AAAA state tournament.

Central's offensive performance wasn't a masterpiece either, as the Trojans (5-5) fumbled three plays into the game and turned the ball over four times overall.


East needed nine plays following Central's first miscue to take the lead for good. Kilpo ran left and threw across his body to Mike Castle for a 12-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

"In the past, once we had them down, they never found a way to come back, so we wanted to get the jump on them early," East juniorrunning back Skyler Murray said.

Kilpo later teamed with Connor Kolodge on a 28-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half for a 14-point advantage.

"When we capped [the drive] off with a touchdown, the momentum was in our favor," said Kilpo, who was 7-for-11 passing for 109 yards. "After the first drive, we were having trouble running on them. We made some adjustments at halftime, and then we established the run to start off the second half. That kind of put them away."

East took the second-half kickoff and drove 77 yards in 12 plays. Murray did the most damage with nine rushes for 57 yards, including a 21-yard scoring run. He finished with 63 yards on 11 carries.

"At halftime we had that 14-0 lead, which is definitely something that you want, but we weren't satsified with the way our offense played," East coach Joe Hietala said. "When we came out in the second half and took the opening kickoff, drove down and burned all that clock, I thought that was exactly what our offense needed to show we could match up with the big boys from Central."

The pattern was similar to East's 19-0 victory during the regular season. The Trojans didn't have enough offensive firepower to overcome two fumbles and two interceptions.

"You can't turn the ball over and expect to win," Central coach Chris Vold said. "You have to protect the football and you have to sustain drives, and we didn't do that."


Central scored its lone touchdown on Joe Serre's 1-yard run on the opening play of the fourth quarter, but the Trojans lost standout lineman Garth Heikkenen to a game-ending injury on the same play.

One more time-consuming East drive and another Central turnover closed the latest chapter in the rivalry.

"They took a lot of clock and did a nice job moving the football and keeping us off the field," Vold said. "We liked our chances in the second half to finally get something going, and we did, but we didn't have enough time."

Duluth Central 0-0-0-8--8

Duluth East 7-7-6-0--20

DE -- Mike Castle 12 pass from Matt Kilpo (Castle kick)

DE -- Connor Kolodge 28 pass from Kilpo (Castle kick)

DE -- Skyler Murray 21 run (kick blocked)


DC -- Harden Henry 1 run (Joe Serre run)

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