GRUNDY CENTER - The Grundy Center football team found out how intense playoff football can be Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Spartans, they won't get to experience that feeling again this year.
Grundy Center lost to visiting Don Bosco, 15-12, in the first round of Class A playoff action. It was the first taste of the postseason for the Spartans since 1994 and Don Bosco's first playoff appearance ever.
Grundy Center (6-4) saw its 12-0 halftime lead vanish as the visitors first took the momentum in the second half then took the game.
"I thought we played a good first half and we just didn't finish the ballgame," said Grundy Center head coach Brandon Krusey.
Grundy Center controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in the first half, which was key on its first scoring drive midway through the first quarter. Spartan running back Connor Noteboom carried the ball eight times for 63 yards on that drive that ended when he found the end zone on a 4-yard run. The kick was no good and it made for a 6-0 Spartan advantage with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
Minutes later, a high snap for Don Bosco led to a short punt and a short field for the Spartans. They mounted a 5-minute drive that ended with a Cody Cole 4-yard touchdown run. The two-point try failed and the Spartans took a 12-0 lead into halftime.
The second half brought new life to the Dons. The visiting crowd cheered loudly when its team was able to pin Grundy Center deep at its own 5-yard-line with 9:08 to play in the third quarter.
"I think we needed a momentum change and that was a big changing point," said Don Bosco head coach Colby Yoder.
The crowd sensed something good was about to happen for the Dons, and they were right. The Dons blocked a Spartan punt that sailed out of the end zone and gave a safety to Don Bosco, which put them on the board at 12-2.
Don Bosco was also able to follow it up with a touchdown to creep within four points at 12-8 midway through the third quarter.
It became a back and forth battle in the middle of the field for the next several minutes. With 6:51 left in the fourth quarter, the Grundy Center defense forced a huge stop and got the ball back for the home team on its own 31-yard-line. But a Spartan fumble on the next play gave the Dons another chance and the ball at the Grundy Center 31. Five plays later, Don Bosco quarterback Jake Hogan found Brandt Becker on a 20-yard scoring pass down the right sideline to propel the Dons to their first lead at 15-12 with 5:24 left to play.
"When the chips are down for us, we really use (Becker) a lot," Yoder said.
They were able to hold onto it the rest of the way for the postseason advancement.
Krusey said they have won the turnover battle all year and weren't able to Wednesday, giving up two interceptions and losing a fumble.
"Our guys continued to rise up and come to work every day," Krusey said. "They've worked real hard."
Don Bosco improves to 8-2 and will take on Postville in the next round on Monday.