CEDAR FALLS - No words can accurately describe the agony of defeat.
Prairie Valley was left feeling bitter emotions once again here Saturday inside the UNI-Dome.
For a second straight season, the fourth-ranked Warriors (12-1 overall) saw their state football title dreams halted in the Class 1A semifinals with a 49-21 setback to unbeaten and No. 2 Council Bluffs St. Albert (13-0).
"The bottom line is, we lost to a better football team (yesterday)," said sixth-year PVHS head coach Mike Swieter. "Their quarterback (Jake Waters) is a stud, and their offense is very explosive.
"Give them credit, because they're much better than I ever anticipated."
After falling behind 21-7 at the end of one quarter, the gritty Warriors - who were ousted by eventual runner-up West Lyon (35-14) in the 2008 semis - briefly gained all the momentum on an energizing 70-yard touchdown strike from senior signal-caller Cole Jaeschke to classmate Mike Martin.
St. Albert - Steve O'Neill (6-yard pass from Jake Waters), 6:55 left first. Gabe Meis kick.
Prairie Valley - Jon Elmore (4-yard run), 4:13 left first. Tucker Kehoe kick.
St. Albert - Andrew Brown (44-yard pass from Waters), 2:41 left first. Meis kick.
St. Albert - Waters (5-yard run), :44 left first. Meis kick.
Prairie Valley - Mike Martin (70-yard pass from Cole Jaeschke), 11:07 left second. Kehoe kick.
Prairie Valley - Keaton Martin (5-yard pass from Jaeschke), 2:46 left second. Kehoe kick.
St. Albert - O'Neill (42-yard pass from Waters), 8:06 left third. Meis kick.
St. Albert - Brown (62-yard pass from Waters), 2:15 left third. Meis kick.
St. Albert - Jake Gentile (5-yard run), 6:08 left fourth. Meis kick.
St. Albert - Brown (2-yard run), 3:29 left fourth. Meis kick.
RUSHING - Prairie Valley: Jon Elmore 19-53, Caden Duncan 5-14, Keaton Martin 1-2, Cole Jaeschke 1-(minus-7). St. Albert: Jake Waters 21-154, Jake Gentile 11-104, Andrew Brown 11-45, Reese Hansen 1-11, Matt Vermillion 1-0, J.D. Culjat 2-(minus-2).
PASSING - Prairie Valley: Jaeschke 13-28-2-193. St. Albert: Waters 9-14-1-216.
RECEIVING - Prairie Valley: Mike Martin 5-114, Keaton Martin 5-51, Cole Jacobson 2-26, Caden Duncan 1-2. St. Albert: Brown 3-108, Steve O'Neill 3-53, Ian Finn 1-25, Mickey Russell 1-18, Paul Johnson 1-12.
Dillon Vosika's key 46-yard interception return put Prairie Valley right back in business in the closing stages of the half, before Jaeschke connected with Keaton Martin just two plays later on a five-yard score, knotting the contest at the break.
"It was anybody's game at that point," Swieter said. "We still liked our chances."
On their initial possession of the third period, however, the Falcons quickly regained the edge, as Steve O'Neill found paydirt on a 42-yard hookup from Waters, culminating a smooth eight-play, 80-yard drive.
"Their big plays were back-breakers," said Swieter. "We just weren't able to slow them down."
Waters' 62-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Brown with 2:15 remaining in the third delivered the dagger to the Warriors. St. Albert eventually tacked on two more insurance scores in the fourth frame for the final margin of victory.
"They stuffed our run game, so we were forced to throw it." Swieter said. "(Jaeschke) has handled the pressure well, though, and (passing) is what he wants to do."
District 7 champion Prairie Valley compiled 255 yards of total offense on the afternoon, while surrendering a season-high 528 - 359 above their average.
Jaeschke went 13 of 28 through the air for 193 yards. Mike Martin was his favorite target with five catches for 114 yards.
Senior tailback Jon Elmore was limited to only 53 yards on 19 carries. Back on Oct. 9 in a 41-6 pummeling of district foe Odgen, Jaeschke (passing) and Elmore (rushing) became the first teammate duo in Iowa history to both eclipse 4,000 career yards in the same season, let alone the same game. Jaeschke wrapped up his stellar varsity career with 4,994 yards passing and 48 scores, while Elmore registered 4,784 yards rushing and 68 touchdowns.
"Our senior group has changed the whole school and brought the community closer together," said Swieter. "There's no doubt we're going to miss them."
Waters completed 9 of 14 passes for 216 yards. He also rushed for 154 yards on 21 attempts.
Jake Gentile added 104 yards on the ground for the tradition-rich Falcons - who are 31-17 all-time in the playoffs with three state crowns.
Thirteen seniors donned a Warrior uniform for a final time.
"I'm as proud as can be of all these guys," Swieter said. "There are 60 other (1A) teams across the state wishing they could've had this opportunity.
"Our guys have nothing to hang their heads about."
St. Albert advances to meet South Winneshiek (12-1) in the 1A finals Saturday at 10:05 a.m. The ninth-rated Warriors upset previously unbeaten and No. 3 West Branch in yesterday's other semifinal, 14-7.
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org