COLUMBUS — It started the same, and the final outcome was the same, but there wasn’t nearly as much drama along the way this time in Columbus Scotus' 48-28 win over Bishop Neumann in a Class C-1 playoff opener Friday.
The two sides met in early October in Wahoo, playing to a 34-33 Scotus win in a classic battle between Centennial Conference rivals. That one required a two-point stop by the Shamrocks late to preserve the win.
This one, though, was all Scotus.
The Shamrocks scored the first three touchdowns of the game, scored on their first five possessions and led 35-7 before the Cavaliers finally forced a punt.
“I’m just really proud of our guys, how they prepared this week. We had kind of been talking about it all week, that we didn’t play the best game the first time around,” Scotus coach Tyler Linder said. “Our kids were motivated.”
Scotus took a 13-0 lead on Oct. 4 and had a goal-to-go situation in the second quarter when a fumble denied the Shamrocks a chance to take a three-score lead. Neumann used the momentum from that play to score the next two touchdowns and take a 14-13 lead.
The Shamrocks regained control and had another two score lead in the second half when the Cavaliers answered again with back-to-back scores. They tried a fake extra point on the second touchdown looking to take the lead but just missed on a pass.
Scotus then wasted all but the final minute and turned away Neumann’s final drive.
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Friday didn’t require any fourth-quarter heroics.
The Shamrocks forced a punt on the first Cavalier possession, scored, forced a fumble, scored again, forced another punt then made it 21-0 with 8:15 before halftime. Neumann finally found its first points on a 71-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Taylen Pospisil to Spencer Wiese, but it was as close as the Cavs came the rest of the way.
Scotus scored again before half, and in the first drive of the third quarter, and sent Neumann home for the season with a 6-4 record.
“Neumann is just like another rival for us,” Linder said. “It’s a Centennial Conference foe, we circle it every year and this is right up there with the Aquinas and the Lakeview rivalry. There’s a lot of great games between us. So, our kids were motivated for this one.”
Prior to the game, much of the focus and the story lines concerned the status of Scotus starting quarterback Tyler Palmer. Palmer had missed the last two weeks after an ankle injury suffered in Week 7.
He was back, and took the first Shamrocks snap of the game, but the story eventually became sophomore wide receiver Garrett Oakley and the Scotus passing game. Oakley caught six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Shamrocks piled up 225 yards through the air and had four passing touchdowns, two by Palmer and two from backup Dalton Borchers.
Palmer went 9 for 11 for 137 yards while Borchers was 3 for 4 with 88 yards. Palmer played into early in the third when it appeared he tweaked the same ankle and gave way to Borchers.
The change didn’t matter. Borchers threw a touchdown pass on his first attempt and led three scoring drives.
“First playoff win. It was a good one. We really came out tonight and played our best ball,” Oakley said. “I told coach at halftime (the cornerback) was a lot smaller than me and I could take him one-on-one. So that’s what we did.”