A golden opportunity for the Bishop Diego football team to build on a strong start to the season disintegrated in the second half, as Lompoc seized control and pulled away for a 17-7 victory, on Friday night at Huyck Stadium.
The game featured a matchup of two of the top high school football programs in Santa Barbara County and is a potential CIF-SS Division 5 playoff preview.
The Cardinals took a 7-3 lead when Luke Knightley pounced on a bad snap in the end zone that came on a Lompoc punt at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter. Despite an offense that had gained little traction against a staunch Lompoc defense and an endless barrage of penaltys, Bishop Diego was in position to secure the victory, but failed to finish.
“You can’t make that many mistakes and win a close game against a good team,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford. “That’s really what it boils down to. We made way too many mistakes to even be this close against a good team, but for a really solid defensive effort.”
Bishop Diego (2-1) racked up 16 penalties for 133 yards and The Lompoc defense refused to bugde led by linebackers Leondre Coleman, who harassed Bishop Diego quarterback Buddy Melgoza all night on his way to two sacks and Jed Rantz, who hauled in a crucial first half interception.
Rantz’s interception set up a 19-yard field goal by Aldo Anguiano that put Lompoc ahead 3-0 with 1:01 remaining in the first quarter.
The Lompoc offense would remain dorment until freshman quarterback Cavin Ross connected with Cailin Daniels on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter, which gave the Braves a 10-7 lead.
After the ensuing Bishop Diego drive was doomed by a chop-block penalty, Ross came right back and lofted a 37-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Morgan, who high-pointed the ball increasing the Lompoc lead to 17-7 at the 11:05 mark of the fourth quarter.
“I saw that it was one-on-one and I had to give my receivers a chance to go up and get it and they did,” said Ross of his second half touchdown passes.
Ross completed 9-of-16 passes for 140 yards with the two touchdowns and an interception.
Lompoc (2-1) was coming off a heartbreaking loss to Righetti in its previous game. The Braves led 21-0 going into the fourth quarter before surrendering 28 unanswered points.
“I thought we didn’t allow one quarter of football last week define how we’re going to be this season,” said Lompoc coach Andrew Jones. “If we can fix some mistakes offensively, make a couple field goals and fix the punt team then boy we have a chance to be special.”