CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Adam Schleisman kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired Friday to give Carroll Kuemper Catholic a 31-28 victory over Waukon and the Class 2A state championship.
Schleisman's kick, only the third field goal he had tried all season, hit the crossbar and bounced through. It was a fitting finish to a game that matched two first-time finalists and was filled with big plays.
Kuemper (14-0) had tied the game at 28 on Cole Neary's 58-yard pass to Alex Drees with 3:14 left. It was the second TD catch for Drees, who also intercepted four passes to tie the all-class championship game record.
The Knights responded 64 seconds after Waukon (12-2) had gone up 28-21 on Parker Hesse's 5-yard quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-inches play.
Neary threw four touchdown passes in all, going 16 of 36 for 289 yards. He was intercepted four times after throwing only two picks in the first 13 games.
Drees finished with five catches for 137 yards, including a 23-yard play on which the 6-foot-4 senior wrested the ball away from 5-10 Jacob Ronan in the far left corner of the end zone to tie the score at 21.
A free safety on defense, Drees doubled the old 2A record of two interceptions and his final pick was the most important. Hesse threw the ball up for grabs on a desperation heave and Drees returned it 42 yards to the Waukon 31, giving the Knights the ball with 8 seconds left.
An illegal substitution penalty moved the ball to the 26 and Neary's pass to Drees went to the 22 with 4 seconds remaining. Coach Chad Klein then called on Schleisman, whose only field goal this year had been from 30 yards out.
He delivered from the left hash — barely.
Hesse carried Waukon in the second half after leading rusher Marcus Weymiller when out with an injury, converting consistently on third- and fourth-down plays to frustrate the Kuemper defense.
He completed 19 of 40 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns and ran 24 times for another 87 yards. One TD pass came on fourth-and-19 and another on fourth-and-9. Late in the game, he ran up the middle for 18 yards on fourth-and-5 from his own 42.
Ronan caught seven balls for 92 yards and a touchdown, on which he leaped between two defenders in the end zone on a 32-yard play. He intercepted three passes, one of which he took away from Drees as both went up for the ball.
Klein is off to a sizzling start in his coaching career. The second-year Kuemper coach is now 25-1.