GILBERTVILLE It had come so easy and so often for Elias Nissen and Springville Orioles this season.
The yards. The touchdowns. The wins.
Nothing came easy Friday night.
Third-ranked Don Bosco kept Nissen out of the end zone and the fifth-rated Orioles out of the UNI-Dome with a 36-21 Eight-Man football quarterfinal playoff conquest at the Don Bosco field.
"We talked about it all week, playing the full 48 minutes," said Don Bosco's Jake Hogan, who ran for three touchdowns, passed for two, and ended the Orioles' last gasp with an interception in the end zone with a minute left.
"Offense wins games, and defense wins championships. We held one of the best running backs in the state to no touchdowns."
Last year's state runner-up, Don Bosco (12-0) advances to Thursday's semifinal game at the UNI-Dome against No. 4 Adair-Casey (12-0).
Springville retired at 11-1. Coach Joe Martin summed it up tearfully:
"We're losing 12 seniors who created a lot of great moments here. Look at where we were. Four years ago, 2-7 would have been a great season. Now, we're mad we didn't make it to the Dome."
The Orioles averaged 66.5 points per game coming into Friday's game, and Nissen had scored 59 touchdowns.
But the Dons tracked his every move, holding him to 84 yards on 23 carries.
Don Bosco jumped in front 14-0 on a pair of Hogan touchdown runs in the first 8 1/2 minutes before the Orioles got some traction. Tyler McDowell's 72-yard kickoff return cut the margin in half, then Sam Scriver connected with Kolton Markley for a 19-yard touchdown pass to knot the game at 14-all.
After a stop and a short punt gave Springville the ball at the Don Bosco 21, it seemed the Orioles had all the momentum.
But four plays covered only five yards, the Dons got the ball back and marched it downfield for a score late in the half to regain the lead, 22-14.
"To their credit, they made plays," Martin said. "We had two critical possessions in which we needed points, and that was one of them."
The other was in the third quarter, when a blocked punt gave Springville possession at the Don Bosco 9, trailing 30-14. Again, the Orioles came up empty.
Hogan connected with Travis Havel on a 31-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-13 to make it 30-14, then added a 23-yarder to Zach Hickson to put the game away with 4:19 left.
Scriver connected with McDowell on a 19-yard toss with 2:57 remaining for the Orioles' final points.
Before last season, Springville had never made the playoffs. The Orioles reached the second round last year, and advanced one step further this season.
Both times, they were eliminated by the Dons.
Hogan rushed 39 times for 146 yards and completed 5 of 7 passes for 99 yards. He suffered a cramp late in the third quarter, but quickly returned.