Chazz Johnson scored three touchdowns Friday night, but Holy Family's four interceptions made the difference in a 27-23 victory over Hill-Murray in a Class 4A football state quarterfinal at Macalester College.
"Our defense really won this game today by great turnovers,'' Holy Family coach Dave Hopkins said. "We did a good job by not turning the ball over ourselves. Typical cliché, but turnovers won the football game."
Rob LaRose's fourth-quarter interception return into the red zone set up the tiebreaking touchdown for the Fire (9-3), a 4-yard score by Connor Byrnes to put Holy Family up 27-20.
That came after Hill-Murray rallied from a 13-point deficit to tie the score early in the third quarter on Dusty Krueger's 4-yard touchdown run.
After missing last week's section final because of a knee injury, Zach LaValle started the game at quarterback for the Pioneers (8-3) but ran into a feisty defense. The Fire capitalized on two first-half interceptions. Johnson dug for a 6-yard rushing touchdown and then caught a 4-yard halfback pass from LaRose for an early 13-0 lead.
"It was a team game," said Johnson, who added two sacks of his own on the defensive end.
Three big plays completed the first half.
Senior receiver Michael Alada took a direct snap 62 yards for a touchdown, but Johnson responded with his third touchdown of the half, busting a 64-yard run. LaValle followed that with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Alada to make it 20-13 Fire at halftime.
After a 2-3 start to the season, Holy Family is now just one victory away from advancing to the state championship game.
"Everybody kind of stuck with it and they believed," Hopkins said. "The true belief in the program really is what kept us afloat."