The outcome swirled in the air like one of the flakes of snow that fell Saturday between Fairmont and Cannon Falls at Hopkins High School until Cardinals quarterback Garrett Myren settled things.
Myren helped lead Fairmont to the Class 3A semifinals with a 27-21 victory over the Bombers with his play in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals trailed 14-6 midway through the second quarter before they got started on the comeback trail.
Myren completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Schultz with 1 minute, 35 seconds to play in the third quarter to tie the game 14-14 following a two-point conversion pass. Then he led an improbable drive in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score.
On a fourth-and-10 fifth-ranked Fairmont (10-1) opted to fake a punt and have Myren try to complete a pass. He did so, barely. Myren scrambled and then with a defender draped around him somehow heaved a pass toward Thomas Johnson that Johnson went up and grabbed between two defenders. One play later Myren was in the end zone after a 44-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinals up 21-14 following an extra-point kick.
“We’ve seen a lot of adversity this year and we just kind of seem to find a way to get us through those tough moments,” Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney said. “We’ve had plenty of them this year. It always comes out with one guy making a play for us. It kind of sparks us and once we get our spark it kind of sets the world on fire.”
Myren served as that spark especially in the fourth quarter when he added an 11-yard touchdown run with 4:35 to play to put the Cardinals up 27-14.
“After losing last year in the first round at state I did not like that feeling one bit,” Myren said. “Everybody in Fairmont knew we had to get this game. That’s exactly what we did.”
It came with a last-gasp effort from the Bombers (5-7), who made their first state tournament appearance since 1996. Cannon Falls marched down the field to pull within 27-21 when Brodie Hansen ran in from 7 yards out with 2:19 to play.
The Bombers recovered the ensuing onside kick but Fairmont stopped Cannon Falls on a fourth-and-2 to preserve the victory.
Myren threw two touchdown passes, including an 86-yard pass to Schultz on the first series of the game for the Cardinals. It looked like things might come easy for Fairmont at that point but it was far from that.
The Cardinals endured turnovers on their next two possessions and four for the game. Cannon Falls turned a first-quarter interception into points when Hansen ran in from 12 yards out to tie the game 6-6. The extra-point kick put the Bombers in front 7-6.
It stayed that way until the third quarter when Cannon Falls intercepted Myren for the second time. Eight plays later Logan Hofstedt ran in from 5 yards out to increase the lead to 14-6 with 7:42 left in the third quarter.
The Bombers had a chance to extend their lead in the third quarter when they started driving. But a fumble deep in Fairmont territory reversed their fortune and turned into a game-tying touchdown for the Cardinals five plays later.
“That’s kind of our motto: Fight on,” Mahoney said.
Fairmont, which lost to Jordan in last year’s quarterfinals, will fight on and face the winner of Perham-Two Harbors next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium.