AC provided the spark, and the Bishop Diego football was humming like a finely tuned engine in the first half of Friday’s rivalry game with Carpinteria.
The Cardinals built a 26-0 lead in the first half and finished with a 39-22 victory over the Warriors in the Tri-Valley League opener at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.
Bishop, the No. 2-ranked team in the CIF-SS Northwest Division, improved to 6-0. Carpinteria had a four-game win streak snapped and fell to 4-3.
Bishop’s Anthony “AC” Carter ran for two touchdowns, passed for one and rushed for 127 yards to lead Bishop’s multi-dimensional attack.
Carter was named the recipient of the G.I. Forum Most Valuable Player Award.
“We’re just trying to drive down the field and trying to score,” Carter said of the game plan. “The offensive line did their job and opened some beautiful holes for me and got me some good scores.”
On his delayed runs after he drops back into the pocket, Carter said they’re not by design.
“I just look down the field and no one is open and I see a hole and I take it,” he explained.
The Bishop defense deserved an award. It was dominant in the first half, holding Carpinteria to just 83 yards while intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble. The Cardinals pressured Warriors quarterback Ian Craddock all night and sacked him eight times. Nolan Tooley and Justin Brosnan led the defensive charge.
“Our guys were physical,” Bishop coach Tom Crawford said. ” I thought our ends in particular put a lot of pressure on Ian. He’s a strong, tough kid. He got pushed from the pocket quite a bit and that was real critical for us because it made their passing less effective than it had been.”
“We, me and Justin, we both like to get after the quarterback,” said Tooley. “It was a great team win. I can’t say enough about our defense.”
Carter got the Cardinals rolling from the start. Lined up as a wingback, he took a handoff from Gabe Molina and bolted for 34 yards. As a quarterback, he completed a 19-yard middle screen to Thomas Lash and threw 27 yards to Tooley for the first touchdown.
Bishop’s defense gave the ball right back to the offense when Troy Skinner blitzed from his corner back position, knocked the ball out of Craddock’s hand and recovered the fumble at the Warriors’ 16.
Running back Jack Gregson ran 12 yards on first down and Carter took care of the remaining four. Justin Brosnan’s PAT kick gave Bishop a stunning 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
The Cardinals were closing in on their third score of the first quarter as Carter ran 15 yards to the 5-yard line. But Carpinteria forced a fumble and Marcus Hutchinson recovered for the Warriors.
Carpinteria started moving the ball behind the running of Paul Cortez and Paul Ramos, but when Craddock went back to pass, the Bishop defense was in his face. Brosnan dropped him for a 9-yard loss and one play later he was intercepted by Molina. Bishop linebacker Christian Pearson also picked off a pass in the first half.
“It just clicked,” Brosnan said of the defensive performance. “I’ve been off and on, but tonight I was really on. This is my last Carp game and I wanted to go hard.”
Pearson’s interception at the Carpinteria 37 set up Bishop’s third touchdown, an 8-yard run by Molina. That put the Cardinals ahead 20-0 at 4:42 of the second quarter.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well against them,” Crawford said. “The athletes made plays for us. it was nice to get that sort of lead and feel comfortable that you didn’t have to have a huge play to move the ball.”
The touchdown drive was marred by an injury to senior running back Jack Gregson. He appeared to reinjure the knee that sidelined him for three games.
A bad snap on a Carpinteria punt gave the ball back to Bishop at the Warriors’ 2. Abel Gonzalez scored on a 2-yard run to make it 26-0.
Carpinteria turned things around in the second half. The Warriors took the kickoff, marched down the field and scored a touchdown on a 4-yard pass from Craddock to David Olvera.
Craddock completed 16 of 30 passes for 141 yards and three scores.
“I think we refocused a bit at halftime and I thought we played better in the third quarter,” Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock said. “Maybe we gave a glimpse of a promise of what the game should have been, which was a much closer game. But Bishop is good and played really well.”
Carpinteria’s defense held Bishop on downs and got a big break when Carter went to a knee to field a low snap on a punt. That gave the ball to the Warriors at the Bishop 15.
The Cardinals’ defense rose to occasion as Toole sacked Craddock on third down. Carpinteria, however, would not come up empty as Craddock nailed a 35-yard field goal, cutting the margin to 26-10 at 3:35 of the third quarter.
Bishop countered with another touchdown drive. Molina completed a 19-yard pass to Nuncio Bilotti and Carter followed with a 23-yarder to Aidan Williams before scoring on 6-yard dash on third-and-goal.
Craddock guided the Warriors 62 yards for their second touchdown, hitting Jonathan Esqueda for a 6-yard score. The two-point PAT failed, leaving them behind, 32-16.
A 71-yard scamper by Carter set up Bishop’s final touchdown, a 6-yard run by Williams.
Carpinteria put together its most impressive drive of the night for its last touchdown. The Warriors drove 87 yards on 19 plays and Craddock hit Paul Ramos from 9 yards out as time expired.