Fillmore Central senior Jayce Kiehne is an explosive player, probably the most explosive in Section 1A. The fleet 6’3” 175- pounder, who missed the Falcons’ 2022 state football run per injury, used his dynamism to lead the Falcons (7-0, 7-0) past their last big test of this regular season, Kenyon-Wanamingo (6-1, 6-1). With 0:02 seconds left on the first half clock, trailing 7-0, K-W elected for a Hail Mary pass into the end zone.
Kiehne intercepted it five yards deep and took off up the sideline. Around midfield, he faced seven Knight defenders with just four blockers. Kiehne eluded all, changed direction, broke a tackle, and used his extra kick (he is an 800-meter state qualifier) to go all the way across the field for a head-shaking 105-yard interception-return TD! It sent the Falcons to half up 14-0. Kiehne also had FC’s first score, a 60-yard TD run. His 105 yards on the return surpassed what K-W did in 29 rushing attempts in the half (100 yards).
Chase Christianson then hit Josh Haugerud for a 35-yard TD pass to start the second half, stoking a 21-0 FC lead. But K-W methodically plugged along, run after run. They got on the scoreboard via a 14-play, 86-yard, 8-minute 39-second third quarter drive. Will Van Epps’ 4-yard TD run, plus conversion, made it 21-8. After a Falcon three-and-out, a six-play, 60-yard Knight sequence ended with a 34-yard Dillon Bartel TD run. The conversion was again good, cutting FC’s lead to 21-16.
The Falcon offense, which did not see the field much, then put together the drive they needed. Kiehne had three of FC’s four first downs, a drive-opening 18-yard run, a 10-yard reception on 3rd and 8, and finally a 10-yard jet-sweep TD run. Atlee Hershberger’s fourth PAT made it 28-16 (5:46). And that score stood as the final, as Hershberger then recovered a fumble on K-W’s next series to made it academically academic. Kiehne (7-107, 2 TDs rushing, 2-18 receiving, 105-yard INT return) led the way. Christianson (5-7, 67 yards, TD passing) and Kyle Daniels (15-69 rushing) helped. Daniels (13 total tackles) and Kane Larson (11 total tackles) led FC’s defensive work. Stout Tanner Hedeen (24-103 rushing), Van Epps (16-78, TD rushing), and Bartel (6-83, TD rushing) led K-W. The Knights had just 11 yards passing. K-W ran 59 offensive plays to FC’s 36. For the second straight year, FC posts a perfect regular season. They entered the game as their sub-division champions already, but are the only Mid-Southeast-East squad to go undefeated.
FC (8-0, 8-0) is 1A’s 1-seed, will host 8-seed Hayfield (0-8). B.A. (6-2), K-W (6-2), Goodhue (6-2), BP (5-3), and R-P (4-4) are seeds two thru six in 1A. Blooming Prairie notably beat #7 Faribault B.A. 42-40 in week eight.