SPRINGVILLE — Trailing by two touchdowns, Easton Valley seemingly had the pick-me-up it needed as it drove toward the end zone late in the first half.
Workhorse running back Andrew Driscoll had carried the ball on six of the eight plays in the drive that had taken the River Hawks from their 37-yard line to Springville’s 9. With a little more than a minute left in the half, they called a timeout to set up one of their most important plays of the night. Once again, they called Driscoll’s number.
This time, the Orioles were ready and stopped him for a 1-yard loss.
“That was bad play-calling by me,” Easton Valley coach Kevin Behr said.
“The defense kicked in there,” Springville’s Elias Nissen said. “We’re really confident in our run defense. When it was fourth-and-1, I knew our guys could finish it.”
Still, a 14-point deficit going into the half didn’t seem so bad, especially when a holding penalty negated a long touchdown on a deflected pass and moved the Orioles back to the 1-yard line.
But, as was the case all too often Monday night in Springville’s 68-36 win at Allison Field, the power and speed of Nissen produced another big play that broke the backs of the Easton Valley players.
Nissen got past the defenders on the line of scrimmage, jumped over a defender around the 10 and raced to the opposite end zone for a 79-yard touchdown.
“We think I can run with anyone,” Nissen, a 6-foot-6 senior running back with a combination of speed and power, said. “As long as I get to the second level, not many can catch me.”
All too often there was no second level. It was the fourth of his seven touchdown runs, and he ran for 451 yards on 23 carries to lead unbeaten Springville to the win in the second round of the Iowa eight-player football playoffs.