This story originally appeared in the Northfield News in 1994 and has been edited for length and clarity.
<&firstgraph>Sartell rallied from a 14-0 deficit to steal a 24-21 victory from Northfield in Friday’s Class A state championship game at the Metrodome.
<&firstgraph>The game was decided in the final 13 seconds when Sartell’s Scott Mader boomed home a 38-yard field goal.
<&firstgraph>It was Mader on Sartell’s previous possession who actually set up the game-winning field goal. Mader on a quick kick on a fourth-and-two from the Sabre 43 got his 55-yard punt to be downed on the Raider 2-yard line. With 1:25 left, the Raiders gained seven yards on three plays and were forced to punt with 30 seconds left.
<&firstgraph>Hokgan Bengston could only manage a 20-yard punt that went out of bounds on the Raider 29 with 23 seconds left.
<&firstgraph>With no Sartell timeouts left, Sabre quarterback Jeff Muntifering hit Adam Herbst for an 8-yard reception. Herbst ran out of bounds to stop the block. After a Northfield timeout, Mader hit his game-winning 38-yard field goal that would have been good from 50 yards.
<&firstgraph>On the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders tried to cross up Sartell by lateraling the ball, but Drew Wilson was stopped for a six-yard loss.
<&firstgraph>The Raiders needed a miracle being 79 yards away from the end zone and with two seconds to go. The prayer wasn’t answered. Raider quarterback Nick Holden threw a 30-yard pass near the right sidelines. The pass went near three Raider receivers, but was batted away by Sartell as time expired.
<&firstgraph>Sartell’s players then flooded the field to celebrate their first-ever football state championship while the Raiders pondered their second consecutive Prep Bowl defeat after a 21-14 loss to Detroit Lakes last year.
14-0 lead ends in disappointment
<&firstgraph>The first score of the game came on a Wilson 1-yard touchdown plunge up the middle at the 7:09 mark of the second quarter to give Northfield a 7-0 lead. The 80-yard, 12-play drive was keyed by two Mark Mokoff receptions of 14 and 19 yards, and a Casey McGovern 9-yard deflected reception to the Sabre 14. Wilson then rushed eight yards, two yards and found the end zone on the next play.
<&firstgraph>The second score came after Northfeild’s Jess Grimm recovered a fumble by Stark on the Sabre 37.
<&firstgraph>Two plays later, Jeff Otte caught a 35-yard touchdown reception.
<&firstgraph>The Raiders were on a roll after their two second-quarter touchdowns built a 14-0 advantage at halftime. Sartell could only muster 30 yards of total offense in the first half, but shuffled the deck on the Raiders in the second half.
<&firstgraph>After a 25-yard punt return by Adam Herbst to the Raider 24, Tom Stark ran to the right and dove into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown run.
On Sartell’s next possession, Herbst ran a slant and grabbed a reception before splitting the Raider defensive backfield for a 66-yard touchdown reception that tied it at 14-14 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.<&firstgraph>
<&firstgraph>On its next possession, Northfield faced a fourth-and-four on its 40, and its gamble on a fake punt backfired when Holden was stopped for a one-yard loss with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.
<&firstgraph>Six plays later, Stark plunged into the end zone from the one-yard line to give the Sabres their first lead, a 21-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Stark also keyed the possession with a 23-yard run to the one.
<&firstgraph>Late in the fourth quarter, Northfield faced a fourth-and-three from its 47, and this time the fake punt worked when Matt Petricka for a 53-yard touchdown. The score tied it 21-21 with 3:41 remaining.
<&firstgraph>On its next possession, however, Sartell had that 55-yard Stark punt to the Raider 2 with 85 seconds left.
<&firstgraph>“We played a great first half and were really in control at that time,” Northfield coach Bubba Sullivan said. “But you have to give Sartell credit. They came out and played an outstanding second half.”
<&firstgraph>Did the Raiders feel they let their guard down after a 14-0 lead at halftime?
<&firstgraph>“We were pretty confident going into the locker room,” senior linebacker Brent Setterstrom said. “We were in a state championship, so we knew they could come back. They just got the momentum right away. Our team showed a lot of character coming back in the second half. Just like we played all season, we never gave up. We just came up three points short.”
<&firstgraph>“I don’t think we felt over confident,” Bangston said. “I think Sartell was definitely up for the second half. Much more than us, definitely.”
“I think we went into the second half thinking we had the game won,” senior lineman Andy Larson said. “Usually we didn’t have leads like that (in the playoffs). We weren’t used to it, so we thought we had the game won. It was tough...a tough loss.”<&firstgraph>
<&firstgraph>Setterstrom in a Sunday interview said the sting of Friday’s loss still hasn’t gone away.
<&firstgraph>“Not really,” he said. “It will probably take a couple of weeks. Then I’ll look back on it and see what we’ve accomplished. But for now it’s pretty painful.”