IRON MOUNTAIN - Ishpeming advanced to the state football finals while two other U.P. teams bowed out in semifinals Saturday.
In another semifinal with a U.P. connection, Iron Mountain's John Novara coached Portland to the Division 5 championship game.
Ishpeming edged Pewamo-Westphalia 8-7 in an MHSAA Division 7 state semifinal at the Superior Dome.
Eric Kostreva, who scored Ishpeming's lone touchdown, led the Hematites in rushing with 107 yards on 23 carries. Safety Alex Briones intercepted two passes.
Ishpeming will play Detroit Loyola (13-0) at 9 a.m. (Central time) Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit for the state title. Loyola crushed Flint Beecher 54-6 on Saturday.
When P-W (9-4) got a 94-yard touchdown from Lane Simon in the second quarter off a tipped pass to take the lead, it was the first time Ishpeming had trailed in the postseason.
"We had our backs against the wall, but this is a great group of kids," IHS head coach Jeff Olson said. "They're great competitors and just made play-after-play late.
"This was a big grind. But our (Mid-Peninsula Conference) and our season schedule prepared us for games like this."
The Hematites will try to win their first state football title since 1979.
Grand Rapids West Catholic scored in the final minute and topped Menominee 20-17 in a Division 5 semifinal at the Superior Dome.
West Catholic ended Menominee's season for the third straight year to earn a berth in the Division 5 state championship.
Maroons (11-2) fell in the Division 5 semifinals for the second time since winning a D5 title in 2007.
"We left our defense on the field for too long today," said first-year Menominee coach Joe Noha, who had been an assistant for longtime Maroons mentor Ken Hofer until he stepped down at the end of his 43rd season a year ago.
"Eventually their offense was able to get some big plays against us."
Portland, down by 11 points late in the second quarter, trimmed Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard 28-23 to reach the state championship game for the first time in school history.
Portland (12-1) will face West Catholic (10-3) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We just beat a great football team," Novara, a 1989 Iron Mountain High School graduate, told the Lansing State Journal. ""We had four or five starters injured who couldn't play today, but other kids stepped up. We have to get a couple of kids healthy for next week, for sure."
Beal City, keyed by its defense along with 42 and 31-yard field goals from German exchange student Paul Anders, dumped St. Ignace 25-7 in a Division 8 semifinal.
The Aggies (13-0) and Harbor Beach (12-1) will clash for the state crown.
(Marquette Mining Journal contributed to this story)