MOUNDSVILLE - Bishop Donahue took care of business in the first half, guaranteeing itself a return trip to the West Virginia Class A playoffs, and rolled the rest of the way against visiting Paden City.
Senior Cody Ballard tossed four touchdown passes in the first half and he and his classmates celebrated Senior Day with a convincing 48-8 pounding of the Wildcats at Monarch Stadium.
The victory moves Coach John Durdines' squad to 7-3 and and a ticket to Wirt County for a first-round playoff encounter. Meanwhile, after a promising start, Coach Brent Croasmun's unit finishes with a 3-7 record.
Bishop Donahue’s Ollie Parker (39) evades Paden City’s Taylor Still (4) on Saturday.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski
"The playoffs are a great thing," Durdines said. "It took us 12 years to get back to them last year and a lot of people thought we might go out in the first round, but we hung around.
"We knew this summer that we had enough talent to get back, even with everything we lost from last year. And I think these kids stepped up, stuck together and have shown they belong.
"Our three losses have all come to quality football teams and these kids deserve this."
Paden City senior Taylor Still capped an outstanding rushing career for the Cats, compiling more than 1,600 yards this season. However, the Bishops kept him on lockdown, limiting him to just 13 yards on 10 totes, with an injury keeping him out of the second half.
"Taylor injured his knee in the first half and we really didn't just want to take any chances with him," Croasmun said. "It is a potentially serious injury and it just wasn't worth the risk."
In all, Bishop Donahue's defense held Paden City to zero rushing yards on 16 carries and just 16 total yards in the opening half. Paden City finished with just 98 total yards, 67 of those coming on a late Geoffrey Bidwell touchdown run.
"Paden City has an experienced line and we knew we would have our hands full with their running game," Durdines said. "But Still is the third great back we have faced in a row and our mindset is that we want to shut teams down, and (Saturday) we did that."
The Bishops also forced eight turnovers, including five in the first half.
"Their defense was great, and their linebackers just did an outstanding job filling the gaps and swarming to the football," Croasmun added. "Basically, we just were not able to move the football."
Donahue looked a little sluggish and in a fog on its first five plays from scrimmage, going into its second possession, but things finally became clear on its sixth play.
Under heavy pressure, Ballard rolled out to his left and drilled a ball into traffic that Parker somehow managed to pull out of the air before rolling down the sidelines the final 20 yards to complete the 41-yard scoring strike. The PAT was no good and the score stood at 6-0 with 9:16 showing.
Another long Ballard touchdown pass, this time 54 yards to senior Chad Riedel, put the hosts back on the board early in the second frame. This time Chase Padlow was true on the conversion and Donahue was on its way with a 13-0 advantage.
Three straight Wildcats turnovers early in the second period really put the playoff-bound Bishops in good shape, and helped Tyler Zahnow celebrate Senior Day.
Following a Paden City fumble, Ballard's third touchdown pass of the half was a pretty 28-yard strike down the far sideline with 8:34 showing. Padlow's kick made it 20-0.
An interception two plays later, and on the hosts next offensive snap, Zahnow took a reverse around right end and scooted 34 stripes down the near sideline just 1:01 later. Padlow again nailed the PAT and all of a sudden the lead had ballooned to 27-0.
Zahnow wasn't involved in the third touchdown in just a 3:34 span, however, senior Garrett Yurisko was, hauling in another Ballard touchdown strike, this one from 24 yards out, with Padlow's exclamation point making it 34-0 with 5 minutes still to play in the half.
"We always preach balance on offense, but if they are going to bring everyone up and commit to stopping the run we know Cody (Ballard) can throw the football," Durdines said. "Just because we run the ball well doesn't mean we cannot throw it.
"But at the same time we know that we are going to have to be more balanced to advance in the playoffs. These kids are just so happy and excited right now about this opportunity."
After having its next drive stall in Wildcats' territory, junior Saquan Hill intercepted a pass and returned it 40 yards to drive the stake a little deeper with Padlow's boot making it a 41-0 margin.
Hill also got the scoring going in the third period, busting in from a yard out with 5:47 showing and pushing the margin to 48-0.
Paden City finally got on the board with 4:56 to play when Bidwell capped a 98-yard drive with a 67-yard run around right end. Aaron Higgans' 2-point run made it a 48-8 score.