After an evening of struggles offensively the Bishop Diego High football team came to life on it’s final drive of the game and pulled off a thrilling comeback to defeat visiting St. Bonaventure 13-7 on Friday night at La Playa Stadium.
Marcus Chan plunged into the end zone from three-yards out to give the Cardinals a 13-7 lead with 1:22 remaining in the game and the Bishop Diego defense came up big on the ensuing St. Bonaventure possession, as junior defensive tackle Logologo Vaa recovered a fumble by Seraphs’ quarterback Manny Rosales as time expired to preserve the victory.
“I really admired how they stayed with it even though we were struggling offensively,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford. “ They didn’t get on each other, they didn’t get frustrated and they just kept playing so from that perspective they saw the payoff.”
Bishop Diego lost it’s top playmaker Sam Mikaele, a three star recruit in the class of 2022, to a leg injury on the first drive of the game. He did not return. The injury was a gut punch for the Cardinals’ offense and an eleven-play drive deep into Seraphs territory to start the game ended with a turnover on downs.
St. Bonaventure responded with a 15-play, 73-yard drive down to the Bishop Diego one-yard line before being stopped short of the goal line on fourth down and turning the ball over on downs.
The first half shifted on a big play by Buddy Melgoza, who starts at quarterback for the Cardinals, but also rotates in at cornerback. He stepped in front of a pass by Rosales and returned the interception 90-yards for a touchdown. The defensive touchdown put Bishop Diego ahead 6-0 with 3:41 remaining in the second quarter after a botched extra point.
Melgoza went down with a knee injury three games into last season and had to endure an extended offseason to get back on the field for his senior campaign.
“That was a big play and was certainly a momentum shift as they were driving deep in our area,” Crawford said. “What a thrill to see him out there after all he’s gone through. He’s such a fine athlete.”
The Seraphs’ lone touchdown of the game came at the end of a nine-play, 66-yard drive on a seven-yard scramble by Rosales with 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter. St. Bonaventure held a 7-6 lead until the final 90 seconds of regulation.
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