Minneota nearly watched its three-touchdown lead evaporate completely. But the Vikings, in their 15th football state tournament, stopped one last drive in the final 1 minute, 26 seconds of regulation to defeat Fillmore Central 28-27 in the second Class 1A semifinal Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"I think I saw some wide-open eyes a little bit at the end of this game today, but that was even myself," Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. "I don't know if you can always say experience prepares you for everything that you have to deal with, especially in a game as tight as this one."

Fillmore Central converted a fourth-and-30 with a 35-yard lateral passing play with 22 seconds remaining but failed to reach the end zone as time ran out.

"We just knew that we just had to hang in there and all it took was one big play," Minneota running back Zack Fier said. "Toward the end there, we got a key sack and a couple stops that put the game away."

The Falcons (12-1) scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half, but a two-point conversion attempt after their last score failed and left it a 28-27 game with 3:15 left in regulation.

Even before the Falcons scored on that drive, they knew they were going to go for two, Fillmore Central coach Chris Mensink said.

"We're going for the win," Mensink said. "We didn't come here to tie."

Fillmore Central, playing in its first state tournament, suffered its only loss of the season. Quarterback Dillon O'Connor rushed for two touchdowns, including a 1-yard run that closed out the scoring late in the game. He also ran 19 yards for a score with 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter and rushed for 71 yards in the game. Bryce Corson caught 10 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.

Earlier in the game, Destin Fier, a Minneota sophomore, intercepted a pass near midfield to set up the Vikings' third touchdown, a 38-yard reception and dash down the sideline from junior Ryan Dalager. On the ground, the Vikings spread the ball around for their touchdowns. Quarterback Isaac Pohlen, Anthony Rybinski and Ryan Meagher all scored from fewer than 5 yards out.

The Vikings also found success handing the ball to senior Zack Fier. Though he didn't score, he rushed for 136 yards on 23 carries, with 94 yards coming in the first half.

Minneota (11-2) will face Springfield in the Class 1A Prep Bowl in two weeks. The Vikings are in search of their eighth state championship and first since 2017. They finished as Class 1A runner-up last year with a 20-14 loss to Mayer Lutheran.