Cardinals regroup, crush Mission Prep

Bishop Diego's Thomas Lash leaps high and stretches out an arm in an attempt to haul in a TD pass. The ball fell incomplete.

On a foggy night at La Playa Stadium, Bishop Diego’s Thomas Lash leaps high and stretches out an arm in an attempt to haul in a TD pass. The ball fell incomplete.

Bishop Diego’s football team exchanged a chip on its shoulder for a much-needed victory on Friday night, as the previously top-ranked Cardinals snapped a two-game losing streak with a convincing 39-14 drubbing of Mission Prep.

“This game was huge. Our coaches were telling us that if we didn’t win this game, we weren’t going to make playoffs,” said Aidan Williams. “So the seniors we all came together, and on Senior Night, we have to win this game. We all stepped it up: the line, the skill players, everybody.”

Not making the playoffs was an unbearable thought for a team that was undefeated two weeks ago.

Bishop Diego's Abel Gonzalez finds a hole to run through on Friday night.

Bishop Diego’s Abel Gonzalez finds a hole to run through on Friday night.

“We were angry. We did not want to lose again so we tried our hardest and we succeeded,” said Cardinals senior BJ Murillo.

Murillo was the one who kick-started the performance by racing 65-yards for a touchdown the first time Bishop Diego touched the ball. The game started with a three-and-out for Mission Prep, who then punted to Murillo.?It was the boost his team needed coming off the two losses.

“I would say that was probably the spark to our offense tonight,” Williams said. “Our whole game I think came off that punt return, so that was awesome.”

Bishop Diego managed to build a 20-0 lead on successive touchdown drives dominated by Aidan Williams and Anthony Carter. Williams carried the ball eight times on a clock-chewing, 14-play, 74-yard drive. On the next drive, Carter completed a 27-yard pass to Thomas Lash on third down before finishing his series with a nine-yard scoring run on which he carried three defenders with him into the end zone.

Mission Prep made some noise on the kickoff following Carter’s TD. Calvin Levisay made the second big special teams play of the night by making it 85 yards to the house. The Royals’ next touchdown didn’t come until there was no time on the clock in the fourth quarter.

The whole game was played in a thick fog that rolled in right at kickoff after a clear day in Santa Barbara. It was so dense at times that the PA announcers could not follow the action on the field and fans had a hard time seeing the far sideline.

Bishop Diego's Anthony Carter, left, and Nunzio Billotti, right, break up a deep pass play by Mission Prep.

Bishop Diego’s Anthony Carter, left, and Nunzio Billotti, right, break up a deep pass play by Mission Prep.

Crawford downplayed the affect it had on the game itself.

“Despite how thick it was, I’m not sure it really impacted the kids at all,” he said. “I thought both teams actually executed pretty well given the conditions.”

In fact, Bishop Diego committed zero turnovers. In their two losses they turned it over six times.

“We knew that if we eliminated the mental errors, we would be able to win. So we did,” Williams noted.

The second half started with Bishop Diego taking a 26-7 lead on its first possession. Daniel Molina dodged his way 12 yards for the score. Williams then scored his second touchdown of the night on Bishop’s next possession. Abel Gonzalez broke a 57-yard run for the Cardinals’ final touchdown, giving them their biggest lead of the game at 39-7.

More than just a confidence booster, the blowout victory was substantial coming against the No. 1-ranked team in CIF-ss’ Northeast Division. Both Mission Prep and Bishop Diego finish their regular seasons with 8-2 records and CIF Divisional title hopes.

The teams will learn their opening-playoff opponent when CIF brackets are released on Sunday.

“We’re definitely healthier than we were last year going into the playoffs,” Crawford said.

The Cardinals are also hungrier having lost last season in the semifinals after an undefeated regular season. The sting of two recent regular season losses is still fresh too.

“Given the senior experience with this group, I think the lessons that we probably learned the last two weeks are important. I’m feeling pretty good about us now,” Crawford said.

BISHOP DIEGO 39, MISSION PREP 14

MP 0 7 0 7 – 14
BD 7 13 12 7 – 39

FIRST QUARTER

BD – Murrillo 65-yard punt return (Kick Good)

SECOND QUARTER

BD – Williams 6-yard run (Kick Good)
BD – Carter 9-yard run (Kick Failed)
MP – Levisay 85-yard Kick-Off Return (Kick Good)

THIRD QUARTER

BD – D. Molina 12-yard run (2-pt. conversion no good)
BD – Williams 2-yard run (Kick Failed)

FOURTH QUARTER

BD – Gonzalez 57-yard run (Kick Good)
MP – Laird 1-yard run (Kick Good)

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