CEDAR FALLS, Iowa | Unable to get its offense going for the first time this season, Remsen St. Mary's could not hold up against the punishing ground game of Don Bosco before an avalanche of turnovers ended its season.
A 16-6 game at halftime quickly turned in favor of top-ranked and defending state champion Don Bosco as it scored three touchdowns in 1 minute, 31 seconds to claim the Iowa eight-player state football championship 52-14 Thursday at the UNI-Dome.
The Dons were riding a 20-game winning streak coming into the title tilt and finished the year at 13-0 en route to becoming the first eight-player program with three state titles. They have reached the championship game five times in the past six seasons.
"We heard the talk (by the Hawks) but we went out and got it done," Don Bosco quarterback Wyatt Sawvel said. "It is a great feeling back-to-back champs."
Second-ranked Remsen St. Mary's suffered its first loss of the season as it was looking for its second title in as many trips to the championship game but closed its season at 11-1.
"Give them credit they played an unbelievable game they deserved first place and I am happy to come home with runner-up," Remsen St. Mary's Coach Ryan Hajek said. "We would have that first missed tackle and then it was off to the races."
In a game that featured a pair of offenses that averaged better than 56 points per game, it was the defense that ruled early.
The Hawks started well as Carter Kuchel took the reverse handoff on the opening kickoff and raced 41 yards to put Remsen at the 25. It looked like St. Mary's was going to go up by a touchdown, but Derrick Schorg's pass to an open Kuchel was bobbled in the end zone and picked off by Sawvel.
"They just made more plays than us and we could not find that big play," Hajek said.
Sawvel made the Hawks pay with a 45-yard run on the ensuing drive before scoring on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to go up 8-0.
The Hawks would get on the board just before the end of the first quarter on a crazy fourth down play from the 11. Schorg took the snap and avoided a pair of sacks before flipping the ball to Brody Ricke. Ricke ran a couple of yards before he was about to be tackled and fumbled. Matthew Begnoche picked up the ball and went the final three yards for the score.
Schorg's second interception of the first half came as he tried to escape pressure by stepping up in the pocket and flung the ball toward the end zone. Don Bosco's Lewis Havel was waiting for the easy pick, and that allowed the Dons to score with five seconds left in the half on a Sawvel to Kendall Becker 39-yard pass to go into halftime up 16-6.
"They tackled extremely well ... and give credit to Don Bosco because we tried to limit their big plays and they made big plays," Hajek said. "That was the biggest turning point."
Hawks senior running back Canaan Cox came into the game having rushed for 2,059 yards and 44 touchdowns, but the Dons never gave Cox any room as he was constantly trying to fight off defenders in the backfield. He finished with 53 yards on 22 carries after talking about how confident he was about a victory over the Dons coming into the game.
"I said I was 100 percent confident that we were going to win and I was 100 percent confident we were going to win," said Cox, who will play at the University of South Dakota in the fall. "No disrespect to Don Bosco that is just the way I like to go into every game. I knew Don Bosco was going to be a very difficult opponent, don't think this is us underestimating them.
"The biggest thing was our O-line, which is an amazing top-notch O-line none of my yards or touchdowns would have been gained without their effort, this game we were not able to get that push."
The Dons outgained the Hawks 307-25 on the ground.
The Dons set the tone for the rest of the game with their second drive of the second half. Don Bosco ran the ball 13 consecutive times to cover 60 yards scoring on Sawvel's 2-yard run.
Schorg would throw an interception on the first pass of Remsen St. Mary's next drive that was returned 19 yards for a touchdown by Thomas Even. That was followed by a snap that Schorg couldn't handle on the ensuing drive and the fumble was recovered by the Dons at the 1.
Austin Svoboda would take the ball in on the next play to complete the quick strike that sent the Hawks to the turf trailing 36-6.
Sawvel added another rushing touchdown -- his third of the game -- in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard run as he finished with 188 yards rushing.
"That touchdown and then the interception and fumble was big but we knew we had to keep playing," Sawvel said.
Schorg finished his day 16 of 29 for 187 yards, four interceptions and two scores as he added an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Bohnenkamp in the fourth quarter.
Hajek was trying to join his father, Ken, as just the second father-son coaching combo to win state titles. Hajek quarterbacked the Hawks to their only state title in 2004.