WAHOO -- In a game that featured more than 800 yards of total offense, it was Bishop Neumann's defense that eventually provided the difference in the Cavaliers' 46-34 win against crosstown rival Wahoo on Friday night.
Tied at 27 after a wild first half that resembled a track meet, Class C-1 No. 4 Neumann allowed one touchdown in the second half while its offense continued to spring big play after big play.
"We knew the key to winning was going to be defense," Neumann quarterback Travis Ahrens said. "We were both scoring, but we had to stop them from scoring somehow."
Ahrens scored touchdowns on runs of 55, 33 and 8 yards. His 55-yard scoring run came after he fumbled the ball, picked it up, then weaved his way through Wahoo defenders late in the first quarter. The 180-pound senior gained 121 yards on 17 carries and completed 11 of 13 passes for 146 yards in a game filled with offensive stars.
Neumann's Cole Chvatal rushed 22 times for 159 yards and scored three touchdowns, one a 72-yard sprint midway through the third quarter that gave the Cavaliers a 33-27 lead.
"Cole is great. He can score any time he gets the ball," Ahrens said.
Veteran Neumann coach Tim Turman said the Cavaliers' talent has provided plenty of big plays during a 7-0 season.
"With the players we have, we thought from about the second game that we were very capable of making big plays," Turman said. "Both sides did it tonight. Their running back (Wahoo's Tyler Kavan) did an outstanding job and our running back did an outstanding job. We didn't play much defense in the first half, I guess."
The Cavaliers played enough defense in the second half to get the win. Wahoo's Kavan led all rushers with 209 yards on 28 carries, but the Warriors were held in check until a seven-play, 73-yard scoring drive in the fourth period that sliced Neumann's lead to 40-34.
Wahoo's defense forced a third-and-10 on Neumann's next possession, but Mike Pensick made a miraculous catch to keep the drive alive. Ahrens spotted Pensick on a deep route across the middle and took a chance. Pensick went up for the ball with two Wahoo defenders, and all three players ended up on the ground after the ball was tipped. Pensick grabbed the loose ball while on his back to complete the 35-yard gain. Four plays later, Neumann sealed the win when Chvatal bulled his way to a 2-yard score.
Neumann finished with 280 yards rushing and 162 passing, while Wahoo rushed for 306 yards and quarterback Jonathan Abbott passed for 101.
BISHOP NEUMANN 46, WAHOO 34
BN--Ludvik 10 fumble return (kick failed)
W--Kavan 5 run (Lindgren kick)
W--Abbott 1 run (Lindgren kick)
BN--Ahrens 55 run (pass failed)
BN--Ahrens 33 run (Pensick pass from Ahrens)
W--Moline 7 pass from Abbott (kick failed)
BN--Chvatal 2 run (Schenk kick)
BN--Chvatal 72 run (Schenk kick)
BN--Ahrens 8 run (kick failed)
W--Abbott 1 run (Lindgren kick)
BN--Chvatal 2 run (pass failed)
A-- 1,250 (est.)
RUSHING-- Bishop Neumann, Chvatal 22-159, Ahrens 17-121, Jansa 3-1, Dailey 1-minus 1. Wahoo, Kavan 28-209, Abbott 9-53, Stewart 6-39, Lindstrom 2-5.
PASSING--Bishop Neumann, Ahrens 11-13-0 146, Wahoo, Abbott 5-11-0 101.
RECEIVING--Bishop Neumann, Pensick 6-102, Chvatal 5-40, Dailey 1-20. Wahoo, Langemeier 2-63, Moline 1-7, Stewart 1-9, B. Scheef 1-22.