LINCOLN — Millard North’s work wasn’t over Monday night on Isaac Aakre’s pass to Clay Fisher for the go-ahead touchdown.
Omaha North had a minute left to work its own magic — and nearly did.
The Vikings got to the Millard North 15, aided by a pass-interference penalty, with 35 seconds left. Millard North’s secondary, which brought in Aakre as an extra defensive back, held on three consecutive incompletions.
Only when Omaha North’s try to send the game to overtime on a 32-yard field goal missed wide left could the Mustangs celebrate a 17-14 victory for their second state championship in three years with Aakre at quarterback.
“We’ve been down that road before with close games here that didn’t come out our way,’’ Millard North coach Fred Petito said. “Maybe we were owed one.”
A crowd of 7,286 at Memorial Stadium saw No. 1 Millard North complete a 13-0 season.
No. 6 Omaha North (10-3) twice had the lead in its first state final, at 7-0 on sophomore Calvin Strong’s 6-yard run after a Millard North fumble in the third quarter and 14-10 on Zach Martin’s 7-yard pass to Ohio recruit Casey Sayles in the back of the end zone with 1:40 left.
Millard North needed 40 seconds to regain the lead.
Aakre, who threw two touchdown passes for the second straight game in the playoffs, had 11-yard completions to Fisher and Matthew Evans. After an incompletion from the Viking 46, he threw to Fisher, who was defended in single coverage at the 22.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior spun away and galloped to the end zone.
“It was a great catch,’’ Aakre said. “I was first hoping that he’d stay inbounds and then I saw him go into the end zone.”
Said Vikings coach Larry Martin: “We were one stop away from having the opportunity to win a state title.”
“I think we saved all the excitement for the end of the game, son of a gun,” Martin said. “I thought our kids played extremely hard against a very good football team.
“Millard North showed its experience of being here. They had some kids at the end step up and make some plays and you have to give them credit.”
Had the Vikings done more on their frequent trips into Millard North’s end of the field — eight of their 10 possessions — the game might have been settled much earlier.
They lost a fumble at the 36, missed a field goal that hit the right upright on the college-width goal posts at the stadium and took a 17-yard sack on the last play of the first half.
“We didn’t execute very well in the red zone tonight, but some of that was Millard North plays at such a high motor that they made us do some things faster down there,’’ coach Martin said.
Strong ran for 157 yards, including the 6-yard run that followed the first of three Mustang fumbles in the second half.
Andy Bayne’s 32-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the third quarter cut the Vikings’ lead to 7-3. It was the Millard North senior’s state-record 15th field goal of the season.
Evans was alone in the end zone when he leaped to bring down Aakre’s 3-yard pass to complete a 66-yard drive for the Mustangs’ first touchdown. Bayne’s extra point made it 10-7 with 5:49 left.
“Wow, that was a great football game against a great football team,’’ Petito said. “What a bunch of resilient guys we have.”
Omaha North (10-3) ................. 0 0 7 7—14
Millard North (13-0) ................. 0 0 3 14—17
ON: Calvin Strong 6 run (Conner Phillips kick)
MN: FG Andy Bayne 32
MN: Matthew Evans 2 pass from Isaac Aakre (Bayne kick)
ON: Casey Sayles 7 pass from Zach Martin (Phillips kick)
MN: Clay Fisher 46 pass from Aakre (Bayne kick)
RUSHING: ON, Strong 25-157, Donte Hill 3-10, TreVon Walker 1-5, Martin 2-minus 8. MN, Aakre 22-110, Conner Matthew 18-64, Fisher 2-10, team 1-minus 2.
PASSING: ON, Martin 9-24-0 154. MN, Aakre 6-8-0 106.
RECEIVING: ON, Walker 4-60, Phillips 1-38, Hill 1-34, Reggie Holt 1-10, Sayles 1-7, Strong 1-5. MN, Fisher 2-57, Nick Roth 2-36, Evans 2-13.
DEFENSE (unassisted-assisted-total): ON, Collin Weingaertner 2-9-11, Andrew Hostert 4-4-8, Sayles 4-3-7, Jesse Morton 3-4-7, Elijah Hawkins 3-3-6, JaVaughn Perkins 4-1-5, Walker 4-1-5, James Smith 1-2-3, Stephen Franklin 2-0-2, Aireon Porter 0-2-2, Isaiah Austin 1-0-1, Tristan Frezell 0-1-1. MN, Nick DeLuca 7-4-11, Steven Price 6-1-7, Cody Thorson 4-3-7, Steven Graeber 2-3-5, Avram Tynes 3-1-4, Roth 1-2-3, Chasen Welch 2-0-2, Brian Moses 2-0-2, Nick Marchese 1-1-2, Erik Huskey 0-2-2, Jon Dima 1-0-1, Gunnar Orcutt 1-0-1, Ethan Morrison 0-1-1, Fisher 0-1-1, Michael Milenkovich 0-1-1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: ON, Weingaertner, Hostert. MN, Milenkovich.