Midway through the second quarter, Kindred held a two-touchdown lead on top-ranked Bishop Ryan and threatened to score a third time. But the Vikings' quarterback dropped the ball. Literally.
Kindred senior Eric Bachmeier caught the shotgun snap, veered right, approached an open running lane and then the pigskin slipped right through his fingers. The ball bounced off the turf and directly into Ryan linebacker Austin Eggl's hands.
Eggl returned the ball 75 yards for the touchdown and Ryan (2-0) rattled off 27 unanswered points en route to a 34-24 win Friday night at Herb Parker Stadium.
"That's what you're looking for sometimes when it comes to momentum," Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said. "You're looking for a spark, and Austin did a good job of providing that for the team. You can kind of see how we all came to life there."
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Kindred (1-1) fumbled again - this time a botched handoff from Bachmeier to junior running back Tyson Tollakson - and Ryan junior linebacker Jared Will recovered at the Vikings' 22-yard line.
Kindred coach Cody Kittelson attributed the Vikings' back-to-back turnovers to mental mistakes.
Bishop Ryan receiver Brody Bosch brushes off Kindred senior Justin Anders during a 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of the Lions’ 34-24 win Friday at Herb Parker Stadium. Bosch’s score gave the Lions a 13-12 lead at halftime.
"I think a lot of it is mental weakness where we got hot (87 degrees at the time of kickoff) and we say that we're tired instead of trying to play and push through it," he said.
Eggl found senior wideout Brody Bosch for a 10-yard scoring strike on third-and-9 with 1 minute, 1 second remaining in the first half. The Lions led 13-12 at halftime.
On its first drive of the second half, Ryan picked up where it left off. Eggl connected with a streaking Nick Berentson for a 55-yard touchdown pass.
The 5-foot-11, 155-pound Berentson found holes in the Kindred defense all night, catching eight balls for 189 yards.
"We did have some coverage breakdowns, which allowed him to get open," Kittelson said, "but he still had to make the plays."
Berentson set up the Lions' next touchdown with a 38-yard catch to the Kindred 10-yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter. Eggl ran in for a 27-12 lead.
The Vikings inserted junior Fletcher Andel at quarterback and he found Bachmeier for a 36-yard completion on his first pass and a 7-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Staton on his second to cut Ryan's lead to 27-18.
Berentson picked off Andel on the Vikings' next drive and returned the interception 11 yards to the end zone.
"You could see him being tired but he was fighting through that and he did a great job," Borkhuis said of Berentson. "That interception, he set that quarterback up unbelievably. He had a perfect read on that and jumped that ball."
Andel threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to William Moffet for the final score, but Ryan recovered the Vikings' onside kick attempt and then ran out the clock.
Bachmeier completed touchdown passes to Moffet (78 yards) and Staton (22 yards) on his first two throws, but Ryan mostly kept the former all-state signal-caller in check.
"We were trying to make sure he didn't get outside on us and beat us down the sideline," Berentson said. "We just wanted to make them beat us with the pass."
The Lions held Bachmeier to 16 yards rushing on 15 carries. Moffet had four receptions for 192 yards and a pair of scores.
Eggl completed 13 of 22 passes for 260 yards and ran 18 times for 137 yards. Ryan piled up 496 total yards.
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.