Winona coach John Cassellius, no fan of roller coasters, got strapped in the front seat for his team's wild 34-30 Class 4A state tournament semifinal victory against Rocori.
After a game featuring 894 yards, 11 turnovers and four second-half lead changes, Cassellius and the Winhawks exited a little queasy but smiling.
The Winhawks (11-1), No. 6 in final Associated Press state rankings, advance to the Prep Bowl on Friday to face Benilde-St. Margaret's. They were runners-up in 1987, their only other state tournament appearance.
"We focused on what we had to do, and we kept our heads up when things didn't go our way a couple times," said Winona quarterback Riley Bosteter, who threw two touchdown passes.
Winona's go-ahead drive nearly ended in disaster as running back Robert Warren fumbled the ball, then recovered it at Rocori's 2-yard line. Teammate Dan Jonsgaard scored on the next play and Winona went ahead for good with 1:21 left. Warren led all players with 224 yards on 17 carries and two scores.
Undaunted, Rocori came right back. A team that emerged from a 20-7 deficit in the second quarter wasn't about to quit. The Spartans (9-4) drove and called timeout at the Winona 12 with 37 seconds left.
The Winhawks' Logan Smith ended the game on the next play with a deft end zone interception, made with just inches of sideline room to spare.
"I'm proud of how our guys fought down to the last second," Rocori coach Mike Rowe said.