PRESTON – After two straight state quarterfinal losses in 2019 and 2020, the Easton Valley River Hawks decided to end their postseason roadblock.

And in dominant fashion.

The Easton Valley football team came out on Thursday night and clinched a trip to the 8-man state semifinals at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls with a 67-22 victory over Lansing Kee at Preston.

“It’s everything we wanted,” senior Andin Farrell said. “We wanted to get to the Dome, but the end goal is to win the whole thing so we’re just one step closer to what we want to do.”

The River Hawks had seen the Kee Hawks once before. In the last week of the regular season, Easton Valley rallied from behind to beat Kee by just five points.

Thursday night was different.

“We’re feeling amazing,” Carson Fuegen said. “I don’t know even how to describe it. Coming up short hte last two years was heartbreaking. So to finally make it and to win by this much, it means the world. We’ve been battling.”

After deferring, the River Hawk defense quickly shut down the first Kee Hawk possession. That included a sack by Andin Farrell and then a huge third down tackle by Charlie Simpson and Ashten Huling. That last stop forced the Hawks to punt.

“The game plan worked to perfection,” Farrell said. “Nothing else could have gone better than what we did. We did what we wanted to do – the blitzing, the coverage, everybody played phenomenal the first half.”

Starting on the six, Carson Fuegen started a huge night for the River Hawk offense.. Fuegen broke out of the middle of the line and moved the ball 30 yards. A few more carries by Fuegen and then a couple of rushes from Charlie Simpson put the River Hawks 7-yards from the endzone.

On the quarterback keep, Conor Gruver scored the first touchdown of the night.

“We didn’t come out hot last game at all,” Fuegen said. Fuegen ended up with five of the touchdowns for the orange and grey on Thursday night. “We let them control the first half, we had to come back. Our main goal coming in was to control the tempo, make sure we control the game the whole way through.”

Eight seconds later, a bad snap resulted in a fumble by the Kee Hawks and Andin Farrell jumped on it. River Hawk ball.

“It’s huge for the momentum of the game,” Farrell said. It’s all hats off to the coaches. They came up with a great game plan for the defense that put us in the right spots, we just made the plays. We worked on it all week and this is exactly what we wanted to do.”

The first play, Gruver, hit Fuegen with a touchdown pass to put the River Hawks up 13-0.

Three more forced turnovers littered the rest of the first half. Ayden Huling intercepted a Kee pass attempt with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. Gruver found Hayden Felkey for a 13-yard score on that turnover.

Dylon Dyson had a fumble recover late in the first quarter. This one ended with a one-yard touchdown by Carson Fuegen.

Finally, Andin Farrell forced a fumble and recovered it himself with four minutes left in the half.

On that last turnover, Conor Gruver was under pressure 13 yards out. He launched a ball toward the goal posts and it was pulled down by Carson Fuegen, who also had Kee Hawk defense on him.

It’s just one of those things we just make sure they don’t come down with it and make sure I come down with it,” Fuegen said. “It takes the other team’s spirit and momentum, it takes it way down. It makes them think, how are we supposed to do anything with plays like that? We just really focused in to go up and get that ball.”

Fuegen then capped off the play with a two-point conversion run that awed the crowd and sent his team to the locker room at half pumped up.

“I rolled out and saw a bunch of purple and white, and I thought I just have to make a couple of moves to get in,” Fuegen said. “I spun a couple of times or something and realized I was really close and just dove. I honestly don’t know what happened.”

At the half, the River Hawks already had the 48-8 lead over Kee.

Easton Valley moves on in the 2021 8-man postseason, playing in Cedar Falls in the semifinals next Wednesday. It’s the first trip to the UNI-Dome for the program under Easton Valley, which formed in 2013.

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