When private school powerhouses Bishop Diego and St. Bonaventure face off against each other it simply means more than your typical non-league contest.
The Cardinals warmed up in their classic home red uniforms before switching to brand new all-black uniforms in the locker room just before gametime. The wardrobe theatrics worked as Bishop Diego controlled the line of scrimmage and came away with a 13-3 victory over the visiting Seraphs on Friday night at La Playa Stadium.
“That was their idea,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford of his players changing uniforms. “I just said to them as long as the fashion show doesn’t interfere with your focus it’s OK.”
Senior running back Adrian Soracco took the challenge of defeating St. Bonaventure personally after sitting out with an injury during last seasons 27-3 loss. He rushed for 145 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown.
“In the beginning they were closing in on our line, kind of something that we didn’t see last week when we played Cabrillo,” Soracco said. “As the game went on we started to tire them out. Our lineman kept improving while their d-linemen got tired and the more the game went on the more the holes opened up.”
Early season jitters were evident for both teams at the outset. Bishop Diego junior quarterback Buddy Melgoza fumbled on the third play of the game setting up the Seraphs with excellent field position at Bishop Diego’s 30-yard line.
However, the Cardinals held defensively and St. Bonaventure was forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Simon Hernandez to take a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
In just the second start of his career after suffering a knee injury that wiped out his entire sophomore season, Melgoza gained confidence as the game progressed and led the Cardinals on a 15-play, 92–yard drive that spanned the majority of the second quarter.
On the drive, Melgoza converted a 2nd-and-16 with a 19-yard pass to Sam Mikeale as well as 3rd-and-11 with a 14-yard pass to Ben Boeddeker. Three plays later Soracco gave Bishop Diego it’s first lead, 6-3, with a one-yard touchdown plunge at the 4:25 mark of the second quarter.
The Cardinals added to their lead on the second drive of the second half with nine-play, 65-yard march down the field that was capped off by a one-yard quarterback sneak by Melgoza that increased the lead to 13-3. With 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.
From that point on the Bishop Diego defense took over and harassed St. Bonaventure quarterback Gavin Beerup. The Wyoming commit was 6-for-14 passing for 65 yards.
The Seraphs were forced to turn the ball over on downs on consecutive fourth quarter possesions that ended with sacks of Beerup. The first time a swarm of Bishop Diego defenders led by freshman Sue’ Luamanu collapsed the pocket. The second sack came on a well-timed blitz up the middle by J.J. Fuller.
Zac Lopez was also a key contributor on the defensive line as he celebrated his 18th birthday in the St. Bonaventure backfield.
The road won’t get any easier for Bishop Diego as the Cardinals will travel to Lompoc on Friday for another non-league test.