The Blackhawks outplayed Logan-Magnolia to advance to their first-ever state final with a chance to win the state title Thursday.
Hinton left the No. 6 Panthers behind 28-21 in the Class A Semifinal at the Cedar Falls UNI-Dome.
"It was more exciting than we would have liked, but when you come out on top, I guess you can't complain," Diediker said.
The Blackhawk team kept after the victory Friday, he said.
Playing in the UNI-Dome was warmer than recent outside games, and some of the Panther runningbacks were 50 pounds more than most of Hinton's linebackers and defensive backs, Diediker said.
"No matter how tired they were, they still were able to come out and make plays when they needed to," he said. "They just kept working hard the whole time."
By halftime, Hinton had a strong 21-6 lead, but the second half would be a game of keeping just ahead of the Panthers.
"Every time it seemed like we were a little in control, we'd do something to lose control. I guess we made it kind of exciting for ourselves," Diediker said.
The game started out with Logan-Magnolia receiving but the Panthers couldn't build much momentum going down the field.
They turned it over on downs to the Blackhawks, who didn't waste time heading to the end zone.
Hinton's 78-yard drive put up the game's first score, with senior Dalton Becker carrying the ball over the line on a 7-yard run.
Matthias Gross-Holtick's kick was good, making it 7-0.
With 8:29 left to go before the half, Hinton QB Morgan Wenzel connected with Becker for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Hinton led 13-0.
Then Lo-Ma, a running team, mixed it up with a successful long pass, which got a touchdown drive rolling for the Panthers.
"We did not cover the guy at all," Diediker said. "He was wide open. We led to our own undoing with that one."
Lo-Ma scored on a 4-yard run, making it 13-6, Hinton. The Panthers were within one touchdown again.
But the Blackhawks still had more in them for the first half.
Wenzel got a 35-yard pass to junior Jake Hasselquist for the score. Wenzel ran in the two-point conversion to up the Blackhawk lead to 21-6 by halftime.
In the third quarter, the Panthers came out and scored on a 3-yard run followed by a successful two-point conversion attempt.
Lo-Ma was closing the gap, with the Blackhawks still holding on to a seven-point lead, 21-14.
At the end of the third quarter, Lo-Ma brought the ball to Hinton's 4 yard line but the Blackhawks made a turnover on a Panther fumble, preventing Lo-Ma from tying the score.
"They did some moving up and down the field, but it was kind of a 'bend but don't break' for us," Diediker said. "Playing against two running backs that combined have over 3,000 yards rushing, we knew that we weren't going to stop them, but we just hoped we could slow them down. I don't know that we even slowed them down a lot, but we did keep them out of the end zone."
Heading into the final quarter, the Panthers were keeping the heat on.
"They just kept pounding and pounding and pounding," Diediker said.
Lo-Ma's 215-pound running back Paul Hutson led the Panthers with more than 1,785 rushing yards this year.
"We were kind of running on their heels a lot of the second half, just trying to slow them down a bit," Diediker said.
In the last few minutes, Hasselquist pulled down an interception to give Hinton control of the ball.
Then, with 2:14 left in the game, Hasselquist caught a 61-yard pass from Wenzel for a Blackhawk score.
Gross-Holtick's kick was good, stretching Hinton's lead to 28-14.
But Hinton had no time to sit back and celebrate that TD.
A long Lo-Ma pass brought the Panthers to Hinton's 8 yard line. The Panthers scored with 1:45 left on the clock on a 5-yard run.
The score was 28-21.
Lo-Ma kicked an onside kick and recovered it to take possession of the ball with 1:40 to go.
An offensive pass interference call pushed Lo-Ma back, and they couldn't get through to make a first down.
"We held them on that last series," Diediker said.
Hinton took the ball back with a little more than one minute left and kept control until the clock ran down for the Blackhawk win.
For a team that didn't like to pass much this season, Lo-Ma pegged a few long ones on their scoring runs Friday.
They went 4-for-14 passing.
"They threw more this game than any game all season," Diediker said. "Part of that was they were behind the whole game, and we pushed them into a few more third and longs."
For Hinton, Wenzel went 12-for-20 passing and rushed 85 yards in 12 attempts. Becker carried the ball 68 yards in 11 attempts.
Hasselquist made six receptions for 157 yards.
On defense, he had eight solo tackles and six assists. Senior Jason Vander Kooi had eleven solo tackles and 1 tackle assist.
Hinton will now play Wapsie Valley in the UNI-Dome at 1:36 p.m. Thursday for the state championship.