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updated: 10/11/2013 11:15 PM

Wheeling gladly takes a victory at Buffalo Grove

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

An opportunistic Wheeling defense took a page out of the Bears playbook Friday night at Buffalo Grove.

The Wildcats had 3 takeaways, turning 2 of the turnovers into scores in a 30-6 Mid-Suburban East win over the Bison at Grant Blaney Field.

Wheeling junior Tyler Urban recorded 2 interceptions in one of the Wildcats' biggest wins in recent memory.

"This was huge for the program," said Wildcats junior Max Chung. "We had a great week of practice and it carried over into the game."

The first quarter was all defense on both sides with Chung and senior Sam Yoshino all over the field for the visitors, while defensive lineman Michael Dax was making some big stops for BG.

The Bison struck first after Kouji Yoshida blocked a Wheeling punt deep in Wildcats territory.

BG's Andrew Apel scored on a 3-yard run, but Wheeling responded on 36-yard screen pass from quarterback Amani Dennis to running back Isaac Branch, then a 35-yard field goal from Erick Cebrero to grab a 9-6 halftime lead.

After halftime, a forced fumble by the Wildcats led to a 1-yard run by Dennis, and Urban's second interception led to another 1-yard plunge by the QB as Wheeling opened up a 23-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Dennis' third TD of the game, a 25-yard rumble up the middle, closed out the scoring late in the contest.

"Everyone put forth a nice effort tonight," said Wheeling coach Brent Pearlman. "We had some players dinged up and we had a lot of guys, like (junior) Allen Butler, step in a do a great job."

Quarterback Trey Cervantes finished 23-of-30 for 148 yards for Buffalo Grove (1-6, 0-3), while Apel caught 10 balls for 58 yards and teammate Scott Smithern had 5 catches for 41 yards.

Branch led the way on offense for the Wildcats (2-5,1-2) with 24 rushes for 195 yards, including two runs of 40-plus yards.

Dennis completed 8 passes for 105 yards, while Urban caught 3 passes for 38 yards.

"Our offensive line set the tone tonight," said Chung. "Those guys did a great job."

Yoshino, who led the Wildcats' defensive effort, said the game plan coming in was the key.

"We wanted to stop their dive early," said the senior. "We knew if we could stop their running game, we could really limit their points.

"This was a big game for us. We knew coming in we had no chance of making the playoffs this year, but there was no way we weren't going to keep fighting and go out there and do what we do."

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