CEDAR FALLS — As far as the Don Bosco football program is concerned, the Dons are back where they belong.
For the sixth time in the last eight seasons, No. 1 Don Bosco (12-0) will play for the 8-player state championship after Thursday morning’s 50-6 dismantling of No. 2-ranked Turkey Valley in the Dons’ November home away from home at the UNI-Dome.
Upset by Rockford in overtime in last year’s quarterfinal round, returning to the Dome has been the mission for this year’s Dons, who will try to win their fourth state title since converting to the 8-player game in 2012 next Thursday at 10 a.m.
“If we didn’t get to the championship game, the season was pointless,” said standout Don Bosco running back Thomas Even, who turned 25 carries into 200 yards and three touchdowns Thursday. “I’m not going to lie. We set out to do one thing, and that’s win a state title. If we accomplish anything less than that we’re not happy with ourselves.”
Thursday’s game got late far too early for Turkey Valley (11-1), which turned the ball over seven times.
The Trojans, making their first trip to the Dome, drove the field with the game’s first possession only to see Don Bosco’s Fischer Ohrt intercept a pass at the 1-yard line. Ohrt recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass as part of a defensive wrecking crew.
On the Trojans’ next possession, they were knocking on the door again when Lewis Havel broke up a fourth-and-two pass from the Dons’ 4-yard line. Five plays later, Cael Frost found Havel behind the defense and delivered a 48-yard touchdown strike.
“Making stops is a lot about grit sometimes,” said Dons head coach Colby Yoder, who said a lot of Turkey Valley’s problems were the result of Don Bosco’s play up front. “It’s about heart. It’s something we can’t coach as coaches.”
Ohrt scooped up a fumble on Turkey Valley’s ensuing possession. Frost ran for a first down on a fourth-and-three to keep the drive alive, and he finished it with a four-yard TD toss to Carson Tenold with 9:17 left in the first half.
Havel then won a jump ball to intercept a pass on the Trojans’ next drive and although that didn’t turn into points, Ohrt’s second fumble recovery set up an 11-yard TD run by Thomas Even for a 20-0 Don Bosco lead.
Turkey Valley’s Dylan Elsbernd gave his team a jolt of momentum on its next play by breaking a 60-yard TD run that made it 20-6 at halftime.
That didn’t last long, either. On the third play of the second half, Frost connected with Havel for a 61-yard passing touchdown as the lead grew to 28-6.
Carson Tenold intercepted a pass at the goal line to thwart the Trojans’ ensuing drive, then Ohrt jumped on another Turkey Valley fumble with 4:25 left in the third period. Even turned that mistake into a 36-6 lead and the Dons then converted Ohrt’s interception of a pass that deflected off a teammate as even raced 35 yards to the end zone to make it 44-6.
The final stats show seven Trojan turnovers, 193 total yards and just six points for a team that averaged 62 points in its previous 11 games.
On the other side, Don Bosco finished with 274 rushing yards, 139 passing yards and no turnovers.
“I tip my hat to our defense. They played lights-out today,” said Yoder. “To only give up six points to a team that’s averaged over 60 points a game is a pretty good feat.
“It’s just a tight-knit group of kids who love to play together. They came out and showed that in the second half. These kids weren’t going to be denied to get back to the championship. I’m darned proud of them.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
Don Bosco 50, Turkey Valley 6
Turkey Valley 0 6 0 0 — 6
Don Bosco 8 12 24 6 — 50
DB — Lewis Havel 48 pass from Cael Frost (Thomas Even run)
DB — Carson Tenold 4 pass from Frost (run failed)
DB — Even 11 run (kick failed)
TV — Dylan Elsbernd 60 run (run failed)
DB — Havel 61 pass from Frost (Even run)
DB — Even 6 run (Carson Tenold pass from Frost)
DB — Even 35 run (Frost run) DB — Even 1 run (run failed)
First downs 14 20
Rushes-yards 34-121 46-274
Passing yards 72 139
Comp-att-int 7-16-4 5-13-0
Return yards 12 53
Fumbles-lost 4-3 0-0
Punts-avg. 0-0 2-34.5
Penalties-yards 1-5 9-87
TURKEY VALLEY — Dylan Elsbernd 11-95, Ethan Leibold 3-0, Eli Reicks 9-22, Seth Huinker 2-9, Elliot Dietzenbach 3-0, Kalvin Langreck 4-1, Marcus Herold 1-2, Team 1-minus 8.
DON BOSCO — Thomas Even 25-200, Cael Frost 18-68, Carson Tenold 1-12, Cade Tenold 2-minus 6.
TURKEY VALLEY — Leibold 4-7-1, 27 yards, Dietzenbach 0-1-1, Langreck 3-8-2, 45 yards.
DON BOSCO — Frost 5-13-0, 139 yards.
TURKEY VALLEY — Elijah Nymeyer 4-29, Elsbernd 2-25, Reicks 1-18.
DON BOSCO — Lewis Havel 2-109, Fischer Ohrt 1-15, Carson Tenold 2-15.