Pierz won the state Class AAA football title on Saturday with an exciting, come-from-behind victory over Dassel-Cokato on Saturday afternoon.
The Pioneers, who defeated Minnewaska in the Section 6AAA semifinals on their way to state, put together a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a three yard touchdown run with just 38 seconds remaining in the game.
Dassel-Cokato led much of the game and held a 27-22 lead heading into the final quarter.
The big strike was a 22-yard pass down the left sideline to the 3-yard line. Pierz scored on the next play to take the lead for good. It was only the eighth pass attempt of the game for the Pioneers and the fifth completion. Pierz prefers to run the ball and are capable of moving the ball at will on the ground, but time was winding down, forcing the Pioneers to go to the air.
It was the third state championship for Pierz in six years. The Pioneers also won state in 2013 and 2015.
In Class AA action, Caledonia won their fifth consecutive state championship, knocking off Minneapolis North by a 26-0 score.
The Warriors defeated the Polars despite running less than half as many plays. Caledonia ran just 33 plays, while North ran 76 plays.
Caledonia took a 20-0 lead into halftime and never looked back.
The play of the game was a 58 yard punt return by Elijah King in the second quarter. After a bad snap the Polars punter got off a hurried kick, a low, ugly punt that bounced and was heading out of bounds. The Polars relaxed a bit but King scooped up the ball before it got to the sideline and sprinted past the surprised North defenders all the way to the end zone, putting Caledonia up, 13-0.
In Class A the BOLD Warriors finished as runners up for the second year in a row. Blooming Prairie won their first ever state championship in convincing fashion, blowing out the Warriors, 41-15.
The game got off to a bad start for BOLD as a spectacular pick-six resulted in a touchdown for the Awesome Blossoms on the Warriors first possession of the game.
BOLD would briefly take the lead in the first quarter on a five yard pass from quarterback Jordan Sagedahl to brother Drew Sagedahl. The combination worked again for the two-point conversion and the Warriors led, 8-7.
Blooming Prairie retook the lead by the end of the first quarter and pulled away thanks to a dominating defensive effort.
BOLD tried numerous long passes, completing some, but most fell incomplete. The Warriors threw 39 passes and completed just 15.
BOLD defeated Minnewaska in week five of the regular season, the first loss of the year to that point for the Lakers.
In the state Nine-Man championship, the Hancock Owls fell to Mountain Lake, 22-14.
The Owls jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to three straight turnovers by the Wolverines. The Owls recovered a fumble at their own 21 and drove down the field for a touchdown on a short pass.
Midway through the second quarter the Owls picked off an errant pass and returned the ball 32 yards for their second touchdown.
Mountain Lake’s offense was stopping themselves, but the Wolverines broke through with a touchdown with just under six minutes remaining in the first half, pulling to within 14-6.
The Wolverines scored again with just two seconds remaining in the first half. A successful two-point conversion knotted the score at 14 at intermission.
Late in the third quarter Mountain Lake took the lead with a touchdown run and two-point conversion. Neither team would score in the final quarter and the Wolverines had their first ever state championship.
The Owls stayed in the game despite being out gained 333-155. The loss by previously undefeated Hancock left Mountain Lake as the only undefeated team in all of Nine-Man football.
In other state finals action, Rocori pulled off two stunning plays in a heart-stopping finish to defeat SMB 22-21 in overtime to capture the Class AAAA championship.
Chaska handed St. Thomas Academy its second loss of the season, this time with a championship at stake, following a 10-7 victory on Saturday. It was the first ever title for Chaska.
Wayzata rushed to the Class AAAAAA championship with a 35-20 victory over Champlin Park on Friday, their first big-school state championship since 2010.