Mankato West stayed in stride on its walk toward a second consecutive state championship.
The Scarlets edged Rogers 14-10 thanks to a goal-line stand with 1 minute, 20 seconds to play in Saturday's Class 5A state tournament semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The victory sends Mankato West (12-0) back to the Prep Bowl. Waiting is Elk River. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 3.
"We felt coming in it was going to come down to one or two plays," Rogers coach Marc Franz said. "These guys had a positive attitude and competed."
A year ago, the Scarlets thundered to the crown. Graduation losses meant different faces and different strengths. Results stayed the same. They have a 31-game winning streak dating to 2019.
Quarterback Barton McAninch provided two rushing touchdowns. The second came after Rogers lost a fumble at its own 28. Trailing 10-7, the Scarlets were eager to take advantage of an opportunity. Especially having been stymied since their first drive of the game.
"We knew we had to score because we had faith in our defense," McAninch said.
Faith was tested as Rogers (9-4) recovered a fumble at the Mankato West 14-yard line. Having watched the Scarlets convert a takeaway into a touchdown, the Royals focused on returning the favor.
"The team was feeling relaxed," quarterback Reece Dawson said. "We thought we had a great chance of putting it in."
Running back Anthony Powell, who posted a game-high 141 yards rushing, took a direct snap on fourth down just 4 yards from a go-ahead touchdown. He fell about 3 feet short as Mankato West swarmed. A defense that entered the game allowing 8.4 points per game, second stingiest in Class 5A, got tough when it mattered most.
"That had me nervous," McAninch said. "But they came through as always."