Mohler's 4 TDs lead Neuqua Valley past DeKalb
DeKalb was unable to spoil Neuqua Valley's march to a playoff birth Friday night, losing 40-6 to the Wildcats in a water-logged game.
For Neuqua Valley (5-3, 4-1), the win means the Wildcats are now playoff eligible, but for DeKalb (2-6, 1-4) the loss erases any remaining chance of a postseason run.
DeKalb caoch Derek Schneeman said Friday night's wet weather may have played a factor in DeKalb's performance but acknowledged Neuqua Valley had to play in the same conditions.
“You've just got to focus on trying to get better, doing the little things better, small victories, you know,” Schneeman said. “I don't think we handled the elements very well, and both [teams] have to play in it, so we didn't flat out execute today – got beat in all three phases. So hats off to them, there's nothing left to do but watch film and get better from it.”
DeKalb Quarterback Cole Latimer was intercepted twice Friday, both in the first half. One of those turnovers directly led to points on the board for Neuqua.
After driving 41 yards to just outside of the redzone, Latimer was intercepted by Neuqua linebacker Nick Williamson, who ran it 76 yards for a touchdown with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
Neuqua defensive back Nick Pape picked off Latimer's second interception with just more than four minutes left in the first half.
Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said the early turnovers were a huge part of the Wildcats' victory over the Barbs
“Our defense has been playing so well all year long, but getting a turnover for a touchdown, I mean, that's special, right?” Ellinghouse said. “It's special for our defense but obviously it kind of puts your defense just in a whole other category, and we've had a couple of pick-sixes and it helps, it helps a lot.It kind of really started, it almost put the game away early on with that big pick-six, so that was good.”
The Barbs – already essentially eliminated from the postseason before the game – entered halftime down 34-0 against the Wildcats, and their circumstances didn't much improve in the back half of the game.
Barbs receiver Xavier Dandridge caught a pass from Latimer with 6:11 left in the final quarter and ran 45 yards to the endzone for the Barbs first and only points of the game.
Neuqua Valley quarterback Ryan Mohler finished the game with four touchdowns, (two rushing and two in the air), about 150 rushing yards and more than 61 passing yards, all in the first half. Quarterback Kiet Truong was under center the second half of the game for the Wildcats.
Mohler connected with receiver Cooper Lehman twice in the second quarter for both of his passing touchdowns – one from the 2-yard line and the other from 34 yards out – but it was his rushing that put the Barbs down early.
Halfway through the first quarter, Mohler earned his first rushing touchdown of the night when he went through a hole in the defense and found clear field to take the football 48 yards to the endzone. The play put the Wildcats up 6-0 with 5 minutes and 39 seconds left in the first quarter.
Moments into the second quarter, Mohler's second touchdown – a 73-yard quarterback keep – put his team up by three possessions. The Barbs trailed 20-0 less than a minute into the second quarter but two touchdown receptions from Lehman added 14 to the point deficit before halftime.
A quick, 35-yard rushing touchdown by Wildcat running back Silvano Spatafora less than two minutes into the second half put 40 points on the scoreboard, signaling the running clock.
Ellinghaus said an injury on the team meant the game plan called for getting Lehman the ball more often than he has so far this season, and after the game he said it's something he should have been prioritizing more, regardless of injuries.
Lehman, to his credit, said he was just doing what his coach asked of him.
“I'm feeling pretty good. One of the big players, [Carter] Stare came down with an injury last week and coach called my name and I just had to do what I had to do. And it all starts with Mohler over here making it easy for me, and our [offensive] line making it easy for me,” Lehman said of his two touchdown performance.