Mistakes Prove Costly for Bishop Diego in 17-7 Semifinal Loss to Upland

Three Turnovers and Untimely Penalties Lead to Disapointing Loss for the Cardinals

Bishop Diego's Vili Fano is consoled by Upland's Ian Sanchez immediately postgame | Credit: Victor Bryant

Upland, Calif – A disastrous first half doomed the Bishop Diego football team in the CIF-SS Division 3 semifinals.

The Cardinals fell behind Upland 17-0 in the first half and could not claw back into the game despite a valiant effort after the break as Upland grinded out a 17-7 victory.

“I actually think that might have been our worst half of the year,” said Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford. “I want to give {Upland} credit because I thought they played outstanding and took advantage of errors that we made, but between penalties and turnovers we played a very poor half and never allowed ourselves to get into a rhythm offensively.”

Bishop Diego commited a face mask penalty, a late hit and an offsides penalty on the opening drive of the game which resulted in Upland advancing into range for a 40-yard field goal that sailed wide left.

On the Cardinals’ first possession, quarterback A.J. Vele was intercepted by Ozzy Randolph, which gave Upland the ball on the Bishop Diego 47-yard line. After another offsides penalty and personal foul penalty, Upland running back Rickey Allen exploded up the gut for a 17-yard touchdown run, giving the Scots a 7-0 lead.

Bishop Diego fumbled at midfield on its next possession, which led to a 27-yard field goal attempt by Bryan England that split the uprights to put Upland ahead 10-0 with just over eleven minutes remaining in the second quarter.

The Cardinals drove down to the Upland 25-yard line on their next possession, but on third-and-5 a bad snap messed up the timing of a run play, which resulted in a 13-yard loss that forced Bishop Diego to punt.

Upland took over on its own six-yard line and on third-and-19 from the eleven-yard line a late hit out of bounds on a short run by Upland quarterback Noah Sandoval set up the Scots with first-and-ten on the 25-yard line.

On the very next play, Sandoval connected with Ian Sanchez on a 65-yard bomb to put the Scots ahead 17-0.

“We figured that we were kind of half way up the field so let’s take a shot and see what happens,” said Upland coach Darryl Thomas. “It wasn’t that great of a ball, but I’m glad our quarterback got it off and our receiver Sanchez did a great job tracking the ball.”

The frustration was palpable on the Bishop Diego sideline as a series of self inflicted wounds put the Cardinals in a deep hole. 

On the next Bishop Diego drive Vele was intercepted again, and Upland drove into the red zone with time winding down, but Sandoval was sacked with under ten seconds remaining in the first half and The Scots’ couldn’t get off a field goal attempt because they had no timeouts remaining.

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The chaotic final sequence was the only bullet Bishop Diego dodged in the first half.

Bishop Diego got the ball to start the second half, and drove 61-yards, on seven plays, including a 52-yard run by Qu’Ran Gossett that was shoestring tackle away from breaking to the end zone, but a 36-yard field goal attempt by Bryan Trejo was no good.

On the ensuing Upland possession, Vili Fano gave Bishop Diego life with an interception that he returned down to the five-yard line.

Two plays later Gossett scored from two yards out, cutting the Bishop Diego deficit to 17-7 with 5:14 remaining in the third quarter.

From that point forward the Upland defense asserted itself and forced Bishop Diego into a punt and two turnovers on downs. 

“That’s one of the pillars of our defense, to make sure a team earns it,” Thomas said. “ {Gosset} popped that one run, but a great job by {Trestin Castro} of coming all the way back and tackling the guy near the ten-yard line and they didn’t make the field goal so we just tell them to eliminate the big plays and make a team earn it.”

For Bishop Diego (9-4) it was a disappointing end to a successful season. The ten-point margin of defeat was Bishop Diego’s largest of the season. The Cardinals were not outclassed from a talent standpoint against anyone they played.

“With the mistakes and penalties and turnovers in that first half the score could have been worse,” Crawford said of his message at halftime. “I did reiterate to the kids that the game was not over by any means, particularly with us getting possession to start the third quarter and we just had to get back to doing what we are capable of doing. We just didn’t do it enough in the second half either.”

Gossett finished with 96 yards on 16 carries in his final high school game. He eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing on the season and scored 30 touchdowns.

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