The ensuing drive for Decorah gave the Vikings the lead for good. Pierce connected with Svestka from 50 yards away. The Andy Sikkink extra point gave Decorah the lead 14-10.
“Give them credit for that answer before halftime,” Bowman said. “That was a back-breaker at that time giving up that big play.”
Maquoketa got the ball to start the second half but failed to get a first down. Decorah took over at the Cardinals’ 39 after a 6-yard punt. Four plays later, Pierce scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, giving the Vikings a 21-10 lead with 8:59 left.
The Cardinals got within four after a Jacob Kloft 61-yard punt return for a score with 3:01 left in the third to make it 21-17 Decorah.
But the Vikings took a two-score leader a possession later with a 64-yard touchdown run 1:34 later.
“I’m very proud of our kids’ effort,” Bowman said. “We went toe-to-toe with the defending state champion and the number two team in the state, and they’re very deserving of that ranking.”
Bollman ended his career with a 20-for-45 passing performance with 257 yards and a touchdown. Strathman had nine catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.
Third-down conversions were a telling stat in the game. Decorah was 6-of-12 and Maquoketa was 3-for-15.
The Cardinals finished the season 7-4 and are 24-11 the last three seasons. Bowman is pleased with the direction of the program.
“This is the fifth straight year we’ve been in the playoffs, and we’ve only made the playoffs twice before that,” he said. “We like to think that things are starting to role for us, and the challenge is to keep that going.”
Decorah (11-0) and will host Solon in the quarterfinals Friday night.
DECORAH 40, MAQUOKETA 24
Maquoketa 7 3 7 7 — 24
Decorah 0 14 14 12 — 40
M — Ben Strathman 4 pass from Trent Bollman (Cameron Thede kick), 5:28