(Cedar Falls) The Exira-EHK Spartans came oh so close to winning a championship on Thursday but in the end came up just short with an 18-14 loss to Don Bosco. Exira-EHK led for 46 minutes and 47 seconds before surrendering the lead to the Dons.
The Spartans raced out to a 14-0 halftime lead behind a 35 yard TD run by Trey Sander in the first quarter and a 40 yard TD rush by Drew Peppers in the 2nd quarter. The Exira-EHK defense played an extremely impressive first half, holding a Don Bosco offense that had averaged 420 yards per game to just 35 yards of offense in the first quarter and only 76 total yards by halftime. Pressure by defensive linemen Bret Johnson, Austin Moeller, and Martin Olson forced Don quarterback Jake Hogan into 1-9 passing in the first two quarters. The 1st half defensive effort was highlighted by a Nick Peppers bone-jarring hit that knocked a Don-Bosco ball carrier flat on their back.
The tide would turn however in the second half as Don Bosco kept clawing their way back. Exira-EHK took the second half kickoff and drove deep in to Don-Bosco territory, but a Spartan penalty stalled the drive. Late in the third quarter the Dons cracked the scoreboard for the first time on a unique play. Hogan found Mitchell Corkery in the right flat near the 10 yard line and as Corkery spun to try and gain extra yardage near the sideline he fumbled the ball and it rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Mason Svoboda for Don Bosco’s first score of the game. Don Bosco scored again midway through the fourth quarter on a Jake Hogan four yard run, but the two point conversion again failed and Exira-EHK still led 14-12. Hogan carried the load for Don-Bosco in the fourth quarter and finished with 118 rushing yards on 32 tries. He averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in the game but got the job done when it mattered most. Don Bosco moved the ball inside the five yard line with under two minutes to go and was able to punch it in on a Hogan one yard run to take their first lead of the game with 1:13 left. In the second half Don Bosco twice drove the ball from their own one yard line for scores.
Exira-EHK’s season ends with a loss in the UNI-Dome for the 2nd straight year. This time they’ll bring home the runner-up trophy. The group managed a 24-2 record over the past two seasons.
Exira-EHK Final Stats
Passsing: Drew Peppers 9/23 106 yards 1 INT
Rushing: Drew Peppers 27-100 1 TD, Trey Sander 11-49 1 TD, Nick Peppers 2-4
Receiving: N. Peppers 6-62, Tate Simpson 1-28, Jarred Hansen 1-11, Sander 1-5
Tackles: N. Peppers 12, Bret Johnson 7 (2 TFL), Simpson 6, Joe Harris 6, D. Peppers 6, Martin Olson 5, Austin Moeller 4 (1 TFL), Brady Frum 1
Click here for the postgame comments from Exira-EHK coach Tom Petersen