Pierz Topples St. Croix Lutheran in Class 3A Championship Game

November 25, 2017 04:39 PM

Pierz won the Class AAA championship with a 34-21 victory over St. Croix Lutheran in a battle of unbeatens in the title game on Saturday, Nov. 25 at U.S. Bank Stadium. It is the Pioneers’ second Class AAA title in the past three seasons and third championship overall. In 2004, Pierz was the Class AA champion. 

The Pioneers (13-0) completed an unbeaten season with a punishing ground game and an opportunistic defense. Pierz rushed for 328 of its 358 total yards, and also took advantage of St. Croix Lutheran’s record-tying eight fumbles, four of which were lost. The only time eight fumbles have occurred in a Prep Bowl championship game was in 1987 by Silver Lake in a 30-14 victory over Verndale in the Nine-Man title game. 

Senior running back Jalen Jansen rushed for 157 of his 178 yards in the first half and scored two touchdowns for the Pioneers. Junior running back Reese Kapsner chipped in 128 rushing yards and had three touchdowns, including two in the decisive fourth quarter when the Pioneers scored two unanswered touchdowns to open up a 34-14 lead. 

St. Croix Lutheran, the Class AAA runner-up for the second consecutive season, was paced by senior running back James Chernohorsky, who had 92 yards on 13 carries and a 58-yard touchdown.

Pierz built a 21-7 halftime lead behind two long touchdown runs by Jansen sandwiched around another long TD run by Kapsner. Jansen gave the Pioneers a two-touchdown advantage on a 49-yard run with 2:07 left in a busy, action-filled second quarter. 

His touchdown came 45 seconds after St. Croix Lutheran had pulled to within 14-7 on a 58-yard scoring run by Chernohorsky. After a scoreless first quarter, Pierz scored two touchdowns in about four minutes to build a 14-0 lead. Jansen opened the scoring on a 52-yard run and Kapsner followed with a 38-yarder. 

Cherohorsky paced the Crusaders with 72 rushing yards in the first half. St. Croix Lutheran fumbled the ball five times in the first half and lost it twice.

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