For the third time in as many years, Fillmore Central football will play to go to state. Their quarterfinal foe was a cakewalk but their semifinal game was a different story. The #2 in Class A Falcons (1-seed, 8-0) easily handled Hayfield (8-seed, 0-8) by 41-14 final in the quarters. FC led 41-0 at halftime. Jayce Kiehne (2-46, 2 TDs rushing; 3-57, 2 TDs receiving) scored four times on five offensive touches, catching both TD passes from Chase Christianson (5-7, 68 yards passing). Kyle Daniels (7-47, TD rushing) and Jacob Mandelko (10-yard TD run) added scores on the ground. Bridon Bahl (3-6, 70 yards passing) and Kane Larson (6-19 rushing, 29-yard reception) did work in mop-up duty.
FC (1-seed, 9-0) then faced Goodhue (4-seed, 7-2). The Wildcats blitzed Blooming Prairie 42-0 in the quarterfinals. The #2 Falcons faced a 17-7 deficit with the third quarter waning. The Wildcats rode the throwing touch of QB Luke Roschen to their lead. The sophomore hit on his first nine attempts, leading a pair of scoring drives. The first was the game’s first series, a 15-play possession that ended with a Kasen Bigalk 27-yard field goal. Goodhue converted a 4th and 10 on the drive. In the second quarter, Roschen was 4-of-4 passing on an eight-play Wildcat drive. A 50-yarder to Sean Matthees set up a 3-yard TD to Matthees. The score annulled a 7-3 Falcon lead and put Goodhue up 10-7. The Falcons’ first half scoring drive, in the first quarter, was set up by a 45-yard Christianson to Kiehne pass and catch, and capped by a Daniels 5-yard TD run. Goodhue went to half up 10-7 despite the stanza ending wildly, with back-to-back-to-back turnovers and then a blocked punt. FC failed twice in the red zone. After FC’s third turnover early in the second half, Goodhue went eight plays and 60-yards, Gavin Shafer capping it with a 1-yard TD run. The ‘Cats converted two 3rd-and-longs on the series. And with it, FC looked up at a 17-7 deficit.
But the Falcon defense then posted back-to-back-to-back three-and-outs. And the offense scored on back-to-back-to-back possessions. On 3rd and 5, Christianson hit Josh Haugerud for a 41-yard TD pass to make it 17-14 Wildcats with 2:05 left in the third. Set up by another chunk Christianson to Kiehne pass play (38 yards), Christianson scooted in from 1-yard out early in the fourth. FC went ahead 21-17. A blocked punt then set FC up in the red zone. The Falcons only got an Atlee Hershberger 20-yard field goal. It gave FC a one touchdown lead at 24-17 with 8:02 to go. Goodhue responded with a 14-play drive. They converted a 4th and five to the Falcon 33. But one play later, an illegal chop block on a good first down run pushed the ‘Cats back. They could not recover from that 1st and 25, turning the ball over on downs in the final 2:00. FC got one first down, but had a punt blocked near midfield with 0:45 left. Goodhue had one last chance. But back-to-back incompletions were followed by a game-clinching Kiehne interception. Chris Mensink’s group moved on to the 1A final, 27-20.
Goodhue out-gained FC 346 to 276 including 260 to 175 through the air. They had 16 first downs to FC’s 13. The Wildcats had just three first downs after going ahead 17-7 though. FC was led by Christianson (9 of 13, 175 yards, TD, INT passing, rushing TD), Kiehne (3-89 receiving, 6-18 rushing), Daniels (16-74, TD rushing), and Haugerud (2-47, TD receiving). After going 9 of 11 for 141 yards in the first half, Roschen (18-30, 260 yards, INT) was 9 of 19 for 119 yards in the second. Matthees (8-142, TD receiving) and Max Loos (6-92 receiving) were his top receivers. The Wildcats only ran for 86 yards led by Grant Reed (22-65 rushing). The #2 Falcons (1-seed, 10-0) will face 3-seed Kenyon-Wanamingo (3-seed, 8-2) in the 1A finals. K-W beat B.A. 22-18.