South St. Paul used a strong running game, starting with its first play from scrimmage, to defeat Marshall 28-14 in a Class 4A football state quarterfinal Friday night in Shakopee.
Senior running back Angel Rodriguez ran for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Packers the quick lead.
"I saw the open hole, and I thought it was a dream," said Rodriguez, who rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Marshall (10-1) then fumbled the ball in Packers territory, which ultimately set up a 2-yard touchdown run by South St. Paul senior quarterback Cade Sexauer.
"When our defense makes plays like that, our offense gets a jump too," said Sexauer, who had 156 yards and two touchdowns.
South St. Paul (9-2) built a 28-7 lead through three quarters. Rodriguez had runs of 40 and 17 yards to set up scores. A 75-yard run by Sexauer helped set up another touchdown. The Packers special teams also contributed by recovering an onside kick.
Marshall threatened to score several times in the first half. A 21-yard run by Trey Lance set up the Tigers' first score in the second quarter. Lance, a North Dakota State recruit, didn't complete a pass until late in the first half as the Packers defensive front pressured him. He also led a scoring drive early in the fourth quarter that cut the deficit to 28-14, but that was it for the scoring.
"They just blitzed a lot," Lance said. "Offensive line did a great job battling the whole entire game."