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Porter Fuegen prepares to take on a tackler for the River Hawks.

The Montezuma Braves defeated the Easton Valley River Hawks 62-35 in an eight-player football playoff quarterfinal game Friday, Nov. 6, ending the River Hawks’ postseason play.

Easton Valley had some early miscues, including a fumble on a handoff and a fumbled snap. The Braves got on the scoreboard first with a 17-yard pass play from the top quarterback in the state, Eddie Burgess, to Cole Watts. The River Hawks could not contain Burgess as he threw for 517 yards on 29 completions and 43 attempts. 

Easton Valley got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter on a 10-yard Conor Gruver pass to Parker Olson, but the extra point was blocked, leaving the score 13-6 after one quarter of play. 

Ten seconds into the second quarter the Braves score again, stretching the lead to 20-6. The River Hawks tried to answer with a touchdown as they went on a fourth-down play at the Braves’ 2-yard line, but Kolton Murphy was stopped short of the end zone turning the ball over to the Braves at the 6-inch line. 

On the Braves’ first play, quarterback Burgess was stopped on a run up the middle by Carson Fuegen, but Burgess pitched to Watts, who ran 79 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-6. By halftime, the Braves led the River Hawks 40-22. 

Easton Valley scrapped its offensive game plan early because Kolton Murphy could not find much running room; he rushed for just 67 yards on 16 attempts. This forced Gruver to put the ball in the air 43 times — the most this season — completing 25, passing for 298 yards, with four touchdowns; however, Gruver threw two interceptions. 

Porter Fuegen cast the lone bright spot for Easton Valley, finishing with more than 100 yards rushing and receiving with three touchdowns in the last game of his prep career.

The River Hawks’ season ended one win away from a trip to the UNI Dome for the second consecutive season.

Coach Tony Johnson took over the coaching duties for the last three years and has a record of 23-8. Talking to his players for the final time this season, Johnson told his 18 players how much love he has for each and every one of them.

Gruver and Carson Fuegen return next year, as does the entire offensive line. “There’s an incoming freshman that could contribute right away,” Johnson added. 

Johnson has no doubt his team can be right back in the same position this time next season. 

“We are going to be a little bit younger but we got some players coming back,” he said.   

Montezuma 62

Easton Valley 35

EV         6    16    0    13 — 35

Montez 13  27   22    0  — 62

Team statistics             M        EV

First Downs                   27        26

Rushing yards               92        232

Passing yards               580       298

Passing TD/INT             8/2       4/2

Total plays                   67         81

Total offense                672       530

Fumbles / lost              0/0        2/1

Penalties / yards          8/60      4/35

Punts / average           3/38.7   4/36.3

Individual statistics

Passing (Player Comp-Att-Yrds-TDs-INTs) Conor Gruver 25-43-298-4-2; Carson Fuegen 0-1-0-0-0; Porter Fuegen 0-1-0-0-0.

Rushing — P. Fuegen 12-145; Kolton Murphy 16-67; Gruver 6-14; Andin Farrell 1-5; C. Fuegen 1-1.

Receiving — P. Fuegen 10-128; C. Fuegen 6-66; Murphy 4-42; Keaton Wilson 2-35; Parker Olson 3-27. 

Tackle Leaders — P. Fuegen 9.5; Olson 5.5; C. Fuegen 4.5; Andin Farrell 4.5.

Interception — None.

Fumble Recoveries — None.

Sacks — Olson 1.5; Hayden Felkey 0.5.