KNIGHTS PULL CURTAINS ON PATRIOTS
The tenth-ranked and second-seeded Bishop’s Knights (12-0) upset the top-seeded Christian Patriots (11-1), 17-7, for Bishop’s third CIF championship in team history at Qualcomm Stadium on Friday, Dec. 7. The Knights have two section titles in Div. IV, but this was the first in Div. V for a school that was playing eight-man football not too long ago.
“This is the best way to go out,” Bishop’s senior quarterback Tommy Wornham (five carries, 19 yards, 5-of-15 passing, 45 yards, one TD) said. “You couldn’t have written this script.”
Christian senior Sam Hernandez probably wishes that he could’ve rewritten the part that led to the Knights’ first score. In the second quarter, Hernandez was back to punt and had to do everything in his power just to prevent a bad snap from sailing into the end zone for a potential Bishop’s safety or touchdown.
Hernandez was able to retrieve the ball and get off a punt, but with the good field position, the Knights were still able to capitalize on senior Tim Costello’s 31-yard field goal. That gave Bishop’s a 3-0 lead with 8:51 left in the second quarter.
“We all came together as a team,” said Costello (nine carries, 27 yards, one TD, two catches 22 yards, two PATs, one INT, 44.8 yard avg. on four punts). “We all got bigger. We all hit the weight room hard.”
It was Erick Allen (11-of-22 passing, 159 yards) who was hit hard by Knights like Austin Rutherford and Zach Franz on the Patriots’ next possession. In fact, Franz sacked the sophomore quarterback to end Christian’s third drive of the game.
The battle for field position continued as the two ball clubs exchanged turnovers, with Wornham being intercepted by senior linebacker Patrick Kelly (10 tackles) and Allen being picked off by senior defensive back Saron Hood (one catch, seven yards on offense) to end the first half. After the intermission, the Patriots received the ball first as the teams came out of their respective locker rooms and promptly put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive in 4:58 to go up 7-3 with 7:02 remaining in the third quarter.
The drive culminated with Christian senior running back Lawrence Walker (21 carries, 100 yards) waltzing into the end zone from 6 yards out. It was set up by Allen’s 27-yard pass to Lawrence Walker and 31-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver Manny Walker (five catches, 82 yards).
“They had ten people in the box stopping the run,” Lawrence Walker said. “We weren’t expecting that at all. It was a hard-fought game.”
Bishop’s countered quickly on Costello’s 2-yard touchdown run with 3:31 left in the third quarter. The 11-play, 68-yard drive put the Knights back ahead 10-7.
“We’ve been through it all, the good and the bad,” Wornham said. “This is definitely the good.”
Bishop’s experienced more of the good when Wornham found freshman tight end Micah Seau (two catches, 16 yards) on a play-action pass for a 2-yard touchdown out of a full-house backfield with 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter to pretty much seal the victory for the Knights.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Costello said. “Like Tommy said, not too long ago, we were playing eight-man.”
Jacob Kelly (16 carries, 63 yards) and Mike P. Jensen (5 carries, 27 yards, nine tackles on defense) also performed well for Bishop’s, as did Hernandez (three catches, 28 yards) and Charles Thompson (14 carries, 47 yards) for the Patriots.
Notes: Costello, compared to Paul Hornung by Channel 4 San Diego commentator Chris Ello, accounted for 11 of his team’s 17 points and had a critical interception in the fourth quarter to help secure the win…A fake punt backfired for Christian on a 4th-and-2 with 6 minutes left when Hernandez was stopped 2 feet short…Costello and Kelly have been named the Coastal League’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively…Only three running backs have gained more career rushing yards than Lawrence Walker’s 5,112…The Patriots were the defending Div. V champions, having upset the Francis Parker Lancers last year…Christian had won seven of the past eight meetings with the Knights over a span of 15 years, but were actually rated below Bishop’s by Cal-Hi Sports…Their regular-season meeting was taken off the schedule due to the wildfires…It’s been 24 years since the high school football championship games were played on a Friday at Qualcomm (attendance in 1983 was 12,783…21,603 was the announced crowd for this year’s games).
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