GILBERTVILLE — Thomas Even looked like a man on a mission. He played like one, too.
A year after being injured and not playing in Don Bosco of Gilbertville's second round 8-player playoff game, a game the Dons lost, Even made up for lost time Friday.
Top-ranked Don Bosco got four rushing touchdowns, five total, and 252 rushing yards from Even as the Dons rolled past Easton Valley, 67-28, to advance to the semifinals at the UNI-Dome next Thursday against Turkey Valley of Jackson Junction at 9 a.m.
"I have been thinking about this game ever since we lost last year," Even said. "Sitting out last year in the quarterfinals. It ate me every single day. I thought about it every single day.
"Just to get an opportunity to play again, to get to the UNI-Dome, it is a true blessing."
The final score was not indicative of the fight the River Hawks (9-2) gave the Dons (11-0).
"It was a street fight out there," Don Bosco head coach Colby Yoder said. "They are a physical football team. I think it was good for us to see that. We banged around hard, both teams. I got a lot of respect for them."
In fact, Easton Valley after falling behind 14-0 had a chance to take the lead early in the second quarter and perhaps grab the momentum.
After a Porter Fuegen 9-yard touchdown run made it 14-6, Don Bosco snapped a punt out of the back of the end zone for a safety. After the ensuing free kick set the River Hawks up near midfield, one unlucky bounce went against Easton Valley, and Don Bosco made them pay and pay quickly.
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A second-and-1 Nate Trenkamp pass deflected off his intended target Logan House, bounced off a Don defender into the air and then was grabbed by Fischer Ohrt for an interception.
One play later, Cael Frost broke loose on a 70-yard touchdown run and Don Bosco was in control from there on out.
"I felt we had some good schemes against their offense," Yoder said. "We gave up a few big plays, but we got some turnovers when they were down in the red zone which was big for us. That swung the momentum to our side quite a few times tonight."
It was 30-8 at halftime, and Easton Valley had a chance to score early in the third quarter, but Kolton Murphy fumbled near the Don Bosco goal line and the Dons recovered.
Even took over from that point as he scored three times in the second half and rushed for 175 of his 252 rushing yards over the final two quarters.
"Thomas, obviously, he is a man on a mission for sure," Yoder said. "This group of kids are really tight, fun to coach. We are back where we are we want to be"
Frost added 131 rushing yards and four of his five pass completions went for touchdowns. The Dons rolled to 499 total yards of offense, while the River Hawks ran 80 plays for 394.
Trenkamp was 26 of 42 for 316 yards, and Murphy ran for 119 yards. Cade Jargo had eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.
"Hats off to Easton Valley, they played a heck of a game," Even said. "They really stepped up, but fortunately we got the best of them."