The true sign of a championship caliber team is how it plays against top opponents.
After needing a late drive a week earlier to edge Columbus Scotus, the Monarchs responded with a convincing 39-14 victory Friday night over Class C1 No.6 Wahoo Bishop Neumann.
The Monarchs gashed the Cavalier defense for 324 yards of rushing on the ground. Neumann, a year removed from a state championship game appearance, started hot but faded in the second half.
“We wore them down in the second half,” Aquinas coach Ron Mimick said. “As the game went along it was much easier to move the football. Early in the game it was very tough.”
The Monarch defense was pushed early. Neumann’s Eli Vedral went 57 yards to the 5-yard-line on the Cavaliers first possession. Luke Fairbanks finished the drive with a four yard touchdown run to put Neumann up 8-0 with 6:39 left in the first.
Aquinas, starting at its 20, responded with two long runs by quarterback Gavin Rech. His second run of 25 yards up the middle, helped to tie the game at 8-8.
Neumann scored again from a yard out to begin the second frame. After the missed extra point the Cavaliers led 14-8. With 6:17 before halftime, Aquinas started a drive at their 47 that stalled on Neumann’s 15. Trevor Siroky kicked a 25-yard field goal to cut the deficit to three with 1:57 remaining.
The Cavaliers stayed with their aggressive play calling, hoping to score once more before the half. Instead, an errant pass was batted up, and Aquinas defensive lineman Kyle Ruth picked it off with 1:26 on the clock.
“I saw him (Vedral) roll out, I got a hand on it (the pass) and I just stayed focused on the ball,” said Ruth, who returned an interception for a touchdown last week. “It was a tight game in the first half, Neumann played great. In the second half, we did a better job keeping our keys (defensively) and eventually wore them down.”
Starting on the Neumann 26, Aquinas fullback Kyle Petree carried the ball to the 1-yard line. Then he found the end zone to make it 18-14 at halftime.
Aquinas did not throw a pass in the second half and rushed for 170 yards after intermission. Gavin Rech and Kyle Petree combined for 259 rushing yards on the ground and all five of the Monarch touchdowns.
“Gavin Rech kept us in the game early, by extending plays,” Mimick said. “They try to take away our halfbacks in their defense, but our quarterback and fullback ran very well tonight.”
The Monarchs return to action Sept.29 at home against crosstown rival David City (0-5). Journal Star reporter Ron Powell contributed to this report.
September 22 in Wahoo
Aquinas 8 10 7 14 -39
Bishop Neumann 8 6 0 0 – 14
Rushing 58-324; 32-143
Passing 2-5-16; 5-11-58;
Total Yards: 340; 201
Rushing Aquinas: Rech 17-136 3 TD; Petree 20-123 2 TD. BN: Vedral 15-79; Blum 1-42;
Tackles: Aquinas: (Solo-Assists) M. Coufal, 5-3; Ruth 3-5 Int.; Eggleston 3-4; Petree 1-4; J. Roh 2-2; D. Reiter 2-1; Chromy 1-3; Siroky 2-2; Kadlec 2-0;