MAN - When No. 12-seeded Bishop Donahue entered the West Virginia Class A playoffs, a lot of the talk was about the Bishops' prolific offense. Not much was said about the defense.
Perhaps there still doesn't need to be as the unit made a statement of its own on George A. Queen Memorial Field on Saturday as it collected eight sacks, all from the defensive line, and three interceptions during a 21-16 victory against the No. 5-seeded Man Hillbillies.
''What more can you say? Chris Vani, C.J. Huff, Chaice Truex and Lane LeMasters, they played an unbelievable game,'' Bishops coach John Durdines said. ''Vani has been doing it all season long.
"He's just an unbelievable kid who loves the game of football and plays his heart out for this team. It's a great win.''
The Bishops offense did have its usual outing as junior quarterback Jesse Padlow connected on more than 50 percent of his passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns, with Jared Yates (five receptions, 179 yards, two touchdowns) and Chaice Truex (7-129) being the main beneficiaries.
''Jesse is just in one of those grooves right now,'' Durdines said. ''Regardless of who's out there he reads the defense extremely well. One day Lavonte (Hampton) is our leading receiver and (Saturday) it was Jared Yates with two huge catches.
"(Padlow) spreads the ball around and keeps everybody interested.''
Still, it was the Bishops defense that set the offense up for success early on in the game as Brett Moore came up with a juggling interception on the Hillbillies' (9-2) first drive.
One play later, Padlow tossed one up to Yates, who turned what looked like a broken play into an 88-yard touchdown strike.
''That was a killer, man,'' Hillbillies coach Harvey Arms said. ''It went from us about ready to score to them scoring. That's a killer. It was the biggest play of the game.''
Durdines couldn't agree more.
''It was a huge pick,'' the 12th year coach said. ''Brett did a great job. We came right out (on offense) with a play we basically designed against them. We knew we could get over the top of them.
"Jared Yates made a heckuva catch and run. It was a big switch in momentum.''
The Hillbillies, who are known for their ground-and-pound game, gained only 61 yards rushing in the first half after their opening possession, 42 of which came from 5-foot-8, 264-pound junior Neil Mullins.
''All year long that's been our best offensive weapon,'' Arms said. ''(Mullins) running the ball hard up the gut. But when we get behind, we can't score fast. And then when we got behind two, that makes it worse.''
The Bishops (8-3) went up 15-0 as Padlow found Matt Vucelik in the flat for a 17-yard touchdown right before halftime.
Man looked like it was in position to score in the third, but on a fourth-and-6, Vani, who has 18 on the season, sacked John Keffer, the second time the quarterback was brought down on a fourth-down play.
Bishop then extended its lead to 21-0 on the next play as Padlow found Yates again, this time for 80 yards on a post route.
The Hillbillies turned their next possession into six points as Keffer scrambled 12 yards into the end zone and then found Cayce Mullins open in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversation.
Man capitalized on its next drive as well as Braden Griffin found an open lane and raced down the field for a 48-yard touchdown. That would be as close as it would get, though, as the Hillbillies didn't get the ball back until there was 25 seconds left in the game on their own 5.
The game ended when Huff got to Keffer to record his third sack as time expired.
''Our kids hung in there and they never quit,'' Durdines said. ''You have to give Man a lot of credit. They were battling all the way up to the final buzzer.
"What a great win. I'm so happy for them. They worked their butts off.''
The Bishops will now travel to take on No. 4 Williamstown, who knocked off Wheeling Central, 27-25.