Pierz led just twice in the Class AAA championship game, and the second was when it mattered most en route to a 28-27 come-from-behind victory over Dassel-Cokato on Saturday, Nov. 30, at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Senior running back Matthias Algarin rushed for 165 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 3-yarder with 38 seconds left in regulation time to lift the Pioneers (14-0) to their second Class AAA crown since 2017 and fourth overall. After Algarin’s third touchdown, the Pioneers had to turn their attention to defense where they were able to hold back any late heroics by the Chargers (10-4).

In their game-winning drive, the Pioneers moved 80 yards in 13 plays and took 3 minutes, 16 seconds off the clock. The big strike was a 22-yard connection from senior quarterback Peter Schommer to Algarin down the left sideline to the 3-yard line.

In the final minute of the third quarter, Dassel -Cokato had regained the lead it lost one possession earlier when senior quarterback Sanders Asplin weaved his way 32 yards for a touchdown and a 27-22 advantage.

Pierz grabbed its first lead, 22-21, when junior running back Michael Leidenfrost scored from four yards out on the opening drive of the second half. He also tacked on the two-point conversion attempt. On the 15-play, 85-yard drive, he had five carries for 53 yards. Leidenfrost finished with 101 rushing yards.

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Dassel-Cokato built a 21-14 halftime lead behind a running attack that generated 220 yards on 34 carries. Sophomore running back Eli Gillman led the way with more than half of that output with 116 yards on 11 carries. His long gain was a 71-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the game. He also had a 37-yard touchdown reception from Asplin.

Gillman was held in check in the second half and finished with 150 rushing yards. Asplin had 105.

It was senior back Josh DeBoer that gave Dassel-Cokato a touchdown advantage when he scored on a 3-yard run with 1:19 remaining in the second quarter.