A “Go Cadets” banner hung from a Metrodome railing well after St. Thomas Academy and Owatonna left the field Friday afternoon.
The memories will linger longer.
The teams played a thrilling Class 5A semifinal game, won 30-27 by Owatonna on a touchdown and two-point conversion with 29 seconds remaining.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been involved in something like this,” Huskies quarterback Colton Schock said. “This is crazy.”
Crazy aptly described a wild fourth quarter that saw the Cadets squander three opportunities to increase their 27-22 lead.
Owatonna punted then intercepted a Cadets’ pass. St. Thomas recovered a fourth-down fumble then had a punt blocked. Owatonna’s Schock threw an interception then the Cadets’ Pat McFadden lost a fumble.
So when Owatonna got the ball at the Cadets’ 27-yard line with 3:01 remaining, Schock knew his team was out of lucky horseshoes.
“We finally got mad enough that we were just going to punch it down their throats and get the ball in,” Schock said.
Seven consecutive running plays later, Luke Wanous scored for a 28-27 lead. A two-point conversion pass from Schock to Mason Bloomquist made the lead 30-27.
St. Thomas hoped to get within range for kicker Wyatt Schmidt, who was 12-for-12 on field goals during the regular season and nailed 41- and 28-yard attempts on Friday. But the Huskies corralled a hook-and-lateral play with no time remaining to prolong their first state trip since 1999.
They advance to next week’s Prep Bowl to play the winner of Saturday’s semifinal game between No. 1 Totino-Grace and Bemidji.
Schock completed 24 of 38 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. One resulted in a touchdown return by Jeremiah Kraker for a 24-16 Cadets’ lead. Schock responded with a touchdown pass to Luke Ebeling to stay within two points.
“There’s no way that I was going to go cry in the corner or anything,” Schock said. “Our team is good enough to come back so I had confidence.”
St. Thomas coach Dave Ziebarth had similar belief in his team’s ability to put away the game.
“We had it,” Ziebarth said. “We just let it slip through our hands.”