Gonzalez pounds out 236 yards to lead Bishop past Carpinteria

If they gave names to rainstorms like they do hurricanes, Brandon would have been an appropriate name for Friday night’s deluge in Santa Barbara.

Like the storm that swept through the area, Bishop Diego’s Brandon Gonzalez pounded Carpinteria’s defense to the tune of 236 yards rushing and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 39-20 victory in the annual Little Big Game on a nasty night at La Playa Stadium.

Gonzalez was named winner of the G.I. Forum Trophy as the game’s most valuable player.

“I’m so happy to be on this team right now,” said Gonzalez, who beat Carpinteria for the first time in his four-year varsity career. “We deserve it … we worked hard. We finally got that victory against them. It’s been a long time.”

Bishop Diego, champions of the Frontier League, finished the regular season with a 9-1 record, while Carpinteria fell to 7-3. The teams will learn their CIF playoff draw on Sunday.

Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford was impressed by the performance of Gonzalez.

“He ran so hard,” Crawford said. “I don’t know how many tackles he broke, he kind of refused to go down. In this sort of weather and this kind of game, those things add up. He was getting stronger as the game went on.”

Gonzalez, running mate Jack Gregson, quarterback Nolan Tisdale and the Cardinal defense helped lead a second-half comeback from a 13-7 halftime deficit.

“We knew we could win,” said Tisdale, who threw three touchdown passes, including one to Troy Skinner on a fourth-down play that broke a 20-20 tie in the fourth quarter. “We played to our potential and we won.”

Tisdale showed great resilience and leadership after Carpinteria’s star defensive lineman Andrew Sova intercepted a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown to put the Warriors ahead 13-7 in the second quarter.

On Bishop’s opening possession of the second half, Tisdale completed a 43-yard pass to Reese Moulton on a third-and-8, setting up the tying touchdown. Gregson scored it on a 2-yard run to make it 13-13.

After Carpinteria regained the lead on a 9-yard run by quarterback Ian Craddock, Tisdale responded with the 29-yard touchdown pass to Skinner on fourth and 8.

“I was pleased with Nolan and the plays he made,” said Crawford. “The two huge plays he made were under duress. He really did a nice job of getting himself together at halftime and playing well in the second half.”

“The first half we struggled because we weren’t used to the rain,” Tisdale said. “We practiced with wet balls during the week, but you don’t really get that real game experience until you’re actually in it. We couldn’t get anything going. We couldn’t get into a rhythm. But, in the second half, we knew if we stuck together we’d get that rhythm going and we’d win.”

On the running of Gonzalez and Gregson, “It make my job a lot easier knowing those guys in the backfield are running for me,” Tisdale said. “We got the offensive line doing the work up front. Credit the O-line and the backs tonight, and our defense — great job.”

After a slow start, Carpinteria found its offensive rhythm, mixing up runs by Paul Cortez with Craddock passes. The Warriors drove to the Bishop Diego 29 and faced a fourth-and-five. Craddock came up big, finding a wide open Gustavo Arreola for a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.

Sova would then stun Bishop by intercepting Tisdale’s screen pass and return it 14 yards for a touchdown and a 13-7 Carpinteria lead.

“It was a pretty good game … the first half, it was close,” Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock said. “It came down to turnovers. Turnovers hurt us and that’s the way it goes. You turn over the ball and they make plays.”

One of the biggest turnovers for Carpinteria came after Bishop tied the score 13-13 on Gregson’s 2-yard run. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinals hit a pooch kick that the Warriors couldn’t field and kicker Justin Brosnan recovered the ball at the Carpinteria 49.

Gonzalez runs moved the ball to the 15. Carpinteria called time out in hopes of stopping the momentum, but the Cardinals were clicking. They would score on a 9-yard play-action pass to a wide-open Gonzalez in the end zone for a 20-13 lead.

The Warriors responded with a 65-yard drive. They almost wasted the drive when they fumbled near the goal-line. There was a wild scramble for the wet ball, with players knocking it back to the nine, where offensive lineman Xavier De Alba finally recovered it.

Craddock scored on a 9-yard run to even the score at 20-20 with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter.

Bishop came right back and drove 80 yards to take the lead for good. Tisdale hit Skinner on the 29-yard fourth-down pass play for a 26-20 lead with 7:18 to go.

Carpinteria started its next drive on the 35, but it ended on the first play when the Warriors fumbled the snap and Bishop’s Nolan Tooley recovered.

Gonzalez and Gregson runs took the ball to the 1, and Tisdale found Moulton in the back of the end zone for the touchdown and a 32-20 advantage.

Gonzalez said the difference in Bishop’s running game in the second half was staying away from Sova.

“He was a being monster up front, so we took him out of the equation by going to the other side and running the opposite way, and it worked out just fine,” said Gonzalez, who praised his offensive line

“I want to give them a big hug and kisses and all that,” he laughed. “I can’t do it without them. They are the heart and soul of the team.”

Bishop’s defense put a capper on the night. Christian Pearson intercepted a pass at the 34 and had the ball knocked out of his arms on the return. But teammate Nic Mon picked up the ball and scored the final touchdown.

“This was rewarding,” Crawford said of the win. “It was rewarding, too, to be behind at halftime and come out and play like we did in the second half.”

Carpinteria…0 13 0 7 — 20
Bishop Diego…7 0 13 19 — 39

First quarter
BD—Brandon Gonzalez 47 run, Brosnan kick, 2:39
Second quarter
C—Gustavo Arreola 29 pass from Ian Craddock, 16 PAT 9:02
C—Sova 14 yard interception return, PAT failed, 7:30
Third quarter
BD_Gregson 2 run, kick failed. 8:44
BD- Gonzalez 9 pass from Tisdale, Brosnan kick
Fourth quarter:
C—Craddock 5 run, 16 PAT 11:54
BD—Skinner 29 pass from Tisdale, kick failed, 7:18
BD—Moulton 1 pass from Tisdale, pass failed, 2:18
BD—Mon fumble return after Pearson interception, Brosnan kick, 1:58