Joe Bahl’s goal-line dive epitomized Dubuque Wahlert’s effort Friday night.
Don’t give up.
Bahl scored the lone Wahlert touchdown Friday in a 42-7 loss to Davenport Assumption at the Loras College Rock Bowl. But the Golden Eagles’ effort when they dug themselves a big hole impressed their first-year coach.
“We’re a team. We’re a family,” Eagles head coach Jamie Marshall said. “We’re going to continue to love each other. This is a tough result. Disappointed in that, but not in the effort.”
Wahlert (1-1) turned the ball over on its first two possessions and the Knights (2-0) capitalized.
After Wahlert’s Isaac Ripley converted a pair of third-down conversions — one with his feet and another on a reception from Charlie Fair — Fair overshot his target deep downfield and Assumption’s Simon Weitz was there waiting for it.
Weitz weaved through traffic and cruised once he hit the sideline on a 60-yard return for a touchdown and the game’s first score exactly 3 minutes in.
Wahlert’s Nick Bandy fumbled two plays later, giving the Knights excellent field position inside the Wahlert 20.
Assumption quarterback Tyler Kulhanek, who ran for 242 yards a week ago, accounted for 18 of the 19 yards the Knights needed to take a 14-0 lead. Nate Schlichting steamrolled in on fourth-and-goal from a yard out to cap the drive.
Assumption added to its lead after once again starting in Eagle territory. Kulhanek and Schlichting again worked in tandem; this time hooking up for a backside screen pass that Schlichting took 28 yards to the house to give Assumption a 21-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
Offensively, all of Wahlert’s first-half bright spots dimmed quickly because of penalties.
Three key plays, including what would have been a 42-yard run by Gabe Anstoetter, were wiped out by flags on the Eagles.
The Wahlert defense, though, stiffened in the second quarter. Assumption’s three possessions resulted in two punts and one failed fourth-down conversion.
It looked like that momentum would carry over into the second half — especially the way the third quarter started for the Wahlert defense. Marik Dickson dropped Kulhanek for a nine-yard loss, backing the Knights deep into their end.
But Grant Simpson got behind the Wahlert defense as Kulhanek scrambled to find someone open. Simpson went 50 yards untouched en route to an 88-yard score.
“We’ve got a long season ahead and we’re going to get better,” Marshall said.
Wahlert put together its best drive of the game on the ensuing drive. The Eagles went 68 yards in 13 plays and took over five minutes off the clock.
Bahl buried his shoulders, kept his legs churning and carried Knights into the endzone from five yards out to put the Eagles on the board with 5:29 left in the third. It was the first points given up by Assumption all year and came with a small bit of drama as it took a few seconds to unearth the pile of defenders to see if Bahl made it in for the score.
“I think I made it in by about two or three inches,” said Bahl, who had three other short-yardage first-down plunges. “But I got in.
The celebration was short lived, though. Kulhanek broke loose on a 55-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage and Assumption was up 35-7 heading into the fourth.
“(Kulhanek) is a great player,” Marshall said. “Big, strong, fast. Hard to bring down.”
Noah Gonzales had a touchdown run in the fourth for the final Assumption score.