WHEELING - The last thing an opposing team wants to see is Bishop Donahue's mammoth offensive line on the field for 77 plays, and Cameron found that out the hard way during the opening game of the McDonald's OVAC Kickoff Weekend on Thursday night at Wheeling Stadium.
It was especially concerning since the Dragons ran just 31, meaning Bishops quarterback Jesse Padlow was set up behind that monster unit for the better part of the evening with plenty of time to pick and choose his spots. Making the first start of what is expected to be a special junior season, Padlow dissected the Cameron defense by hitting seven different receivers en route to an 18-for-23, 258-yard, four-touchdown performance as Bishop Donahue (1-0) routed its Marshall County rival, 48-12.
''Defensively I thought they had a great scheme, blitzing linebackers and sending more than we could block,'' Bishops coach John Durdines said. ''We really weren't able to run the ball, but obviously when they send too many we've got a pretty damn good quarterback and good receivers.
Bishop Donahue’s Lavonte Hampton (5) looks for yardage against Cameron on Thursday night.
''We knew they couldn't take both away from us.''
The truth is, the Dragons really didn't take away much, save for a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown by Hunter Yoders late in the third quarter off Bishop backup Hunter Kaschke. The Bishops averaged 4.6 yards per carry, picking up 197 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries.
As good as the offense was, some might argue Bishop's defense stole the show. Using only his front four to apply pressure on Cameron's 6-foot-9 junior quarterback Logan Routt and playing bump-and-run on the outside, Durdines' first-team unit allowed a total of three yards before checking out late in the fourth quarter.
''We didn't give Logan enough time to throw the ball,'' Dragons (0-1) coach Jim Rogers said. ''We couldn't get off the bump in a lot of cases.
''Now he's standing there five, six seconds and he's going to get sacked. It wasn't his fault.''
Bishop Donahue started the scoring on its second possession, a 12-play, 78-yard drive that featured five of the team's 25 first downs and culminated with Padlow hooking up with Lavonte Hampton for an 11-yard score.
The Bishops went 81 yards in 10 plays on their next drive, with Andrew Cunningham and Josh Miller making catches of 19 and 27 yards, respectively. That ended in another TD catch from Hampton, this from 16 yards.
Miller (6-4) was another breakout star for the Bishops, turning in a game high-tying six passes and leading the way with 101 yards.
''That Miller kid, they went to him when they needed it,'' Rogers said. ''They have tall receivers and we don't get that look in practice.''
Miller went back to work with a 41-yard catch and Padlow found Chaice Truex from 13 yards away as Donahue took a 20-0 lead into the locker room. Cameron didn't pick up its initial first down - it had three in the game to go along with 70 yards - until less than six minutes remained.
''Having a thousand pounds on the front four of your defensive line is definitely a blessing,'' Durdines said. ''We didn't blitz one single time because we wanted to get the pressure with that front four.
''They got a lot of heat on (Routt) and forced him into a lot of awkward throws.''
Cunningham found his way into the end zone on the ground from 31 yards away on the Bishops' first possession of the second half, and Padlow, shaking off a sack while rolling to his left on fourth-and-6, hit Alex Riedel with a 7-yard score with 5:04 remaining in the third to make it a 34-0 advantage.
Kaschke followed the INT return by Yoders, who turned in a great game with 14 tackles and three assists, by running in from 5 yards out. The Dragons scored their lone offensive touchdown as Clayton Ward broke off a 61-yard scamper against Durdines' second-team defense, before freshman Trey Miller got loose on a 52-yard touchdown run for the Bishops to close the scoring.
It really all came down to Cameron's inability to get its defense off the field on third down. Padlow and the Bishops converted 7 of 11 third-down conversions, while the Dragons finished 0-for-9.
''Third-down conversions are huge because they keep drives going, obviously. Jesse, on a lot of those, we had some third-and-longs and he found his receivers,'' Durdines said.