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OKC Bishop McGuinness neutralizes Piedmont's run-heavy offense in a rainy 34-17 triumph

With win, the Fighting Irish clinch second place in District 5A-2
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By Michael Kinney 

OKLAHOMA CITY - Piedmont headed into its matchup with Bishop McGuinness with some big help on its side. 

With rain pouring down throughout the night, the run-heavy Wildcats seemed to have Mother Nature pulling for them.

However, the Fighting Irish must not have been privy to that script. They took advantage of big plays and staunch defense in the second half to earn a 34-17 victory Friday in a District 5A-2 contest at Bishop McGuinness High.

“I think we came out slow in the first half, but we definitely picked it up the second half and we played through what we had to play through,” said Irish senior linebacker Kazeyn Bird.

The Irish started the night off by handing the rock off to running back Mike Taffe on nine of the game’s first 11 plays. Behind an offensive line that was overpowering the Wildcats' defense, the senior was able to pick up chunks of yards each time he touched the ball.

Taffe ended the four-minute drive with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone.

Piedmont and its flex-bone offense responded by driving the ball right back down against the Irish. Cannon Wood and Kolten Luschen maneuvered their way through the defense, while Israel Robles ran through them as the Wildcats made their way into the Irish red zone.

The Wildcats had the ball for eight minutes to close out the first quarter. But on the first play of the second quarter, Luschen caught a pass in the flats from Joshua Mars and ran 6 yards into the end zone to tie the score.

Late in the second quarter, it was the Piedmont defensive unit’s turn to change the tide of the contest.

Piedmont sophomore Lane Whitworth came over from his safety spot and picked off River Warren on a deep pass down along the sideline. However, two plays later, the Wildcats fumbled, and it was recovered by McGuinness senior Drew Chansolme on Piedmont’s 15-yard line.

On the very next play, Warren connected with a wide-open Tyrrell Bruner for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 3:47 left in the half.

The Wildcats dropped a pass in the end zone that would have tied the score late in the second quarter. Instead, they settled for a 32-yard field goal and trailed by four, 14-10, at halftime.

The Irish started the second half with Taffe hobbling off the field after a running play on their first possession. But they came back with a 64-yard touchdown run from Zane Shadid on the ensuing play.

Shadid, a senior tailback, broke through the Piedmont defensive front and ran untouched all the way to the end zone.

Bishop McGuinness pushed its advantage to double digits, 20-10.

After the Irish defense forced the Wildcats to punt, Bishop McGuiness struck again.

Taffe took a handoff and took a few steps to his right before dropping back to pass. He heaved a bomb down the right side of the field to Bruner, who blew past his defender for a 71-yard touchdown.

“We have one of the best running backs in the state, if not the best,” said Bruner. “And when they worry about him, it opens up the pass game for me.”

With Bishop McGuinness leading by 17 points heading into the fourth quarter, Piedmont stuck to its running game and scored with 10:32 on the clock.

Down 10, the Wildcats went for an onside kick and recovered it on the 49-yard line. However, Bishop McGuinness forced Piedmont to turn the ball over on downs and took over with 8:25 left.

Two plays later, Warren and Bruner - who was being defended by Ethan Shelton - connected again for a 39-yard TD strike that put the contest away. It was Bruner's 10th TD of the season.

Bruner racked up 124 yards and three touchdowns on three receptions. Taffe led all rushers with 114 yards on 14 carries.

While the Wildcats were able to run for 300 yards, they ended the night with only 17 yards coming through the air.

“As soon as we could stop the run, stop them from getting outside and force them to pass, we knew we had the game,” Bird said. “They're not very strong in the pass game, so we knew we had it after they started passing.”

The victory put Bishop McGuinness (8-1, 5-1) all alone in second place in District 5A-2. With their regular season schedule complete, the Irish will wait to see who will be their first-round opponent.

Piedmont (6-3, 3-2) will face district leader Midwest City Carl Albert in the regular season finale.