Bishop's players cheer after defeating Mater Dei Catholic in overtime for the San Diego Section Division IV championship.
CHULA VISTA Bishop’s found itself in a very unusual position midway through Friday’s Division IV championship game against Mater Dei Catholic.
The Knights were scoreless and losing at halftime, two things they had not experienced while winning each of their previous 12 games this season.
“We just told them to calm down and play football,” said Bishop’s coach Joel Allen. “There’s no doubt it was a shock. When you’ve had success on a regular basis, the first time you don’t it’s a shock. But it’s about battling through that shock.”
The Knights almost waited too long for the shock to wear off.
Bishop’s running back Bulla Graft scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in overtime, giving the Knights a 19-16 victory over Mater Dei at Southwestern College.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Mater Dei coach John Joyner, “but we took a team that’s unbeaten to overtime and really dominated the game. I’m so proud of my team.”
Mater Dei’s Alex Golembiewski kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Golembiewski kicked a 34-yard field goal in the extra period before Graft decided the contest when Bishop’s got the ball.
Graft, the Coastal League Offensive Player of the Year, rushed 21 times for 111 yards. They were tough yards for a player who had averaged 12.5 yards per carry during the season.
Before going the last yard, Graft told his teammates: “There’s no games after this. Whatever pain you feel, release it. When you get that ring, you’ll feel no pain.”
The victory completed the third unbeaten season in eight years for Bishop’s (13-0). It appeared the Knights were in for an upsetting afternoon the way things began, however.
Mater Dei quarterback Chris Jones stunned Bishop’s on the Crusaders’ first play from scrimmage, taking the snap, pausing for an instant, then running untouched up the middle for a 68-yard touchdown.
Mater Dei added a 29-yard field goal by Golembiewski with 29 seconds left in the second quarter for a 10-0 halftime lead.
The Knights came into the contest averaging 46.7 points a game. They had defeated Mater Dei 38-21 in a midseason game.
Interceptions by Quentin Frazier and Kyle Moses and a fumble recovery by Roberto Marcos were among the highlights for a determined Mater Dei defense.
The Crusaders (7-6) shut out Bishop’s for nearly 3½ quarters before the Knights finally scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Griffin Seaman to freshman Mozes Mooney with 7½ minutes remaining. Bishop’s missed the extra point, so Mater Dei had a 10-6 advantage.
Seaman came back to Mooney for a 24-yard scoring pass, with Mooney breaking three tackles to reach the end zone for a 13-10 Bishop’s lead with 47 seconds remaining.
Mooney, who had nine receptions for 114 yards, said: “Everybody got out and blocked and we executed perfectly and that’s what’s supposed to happen when you play football like that.”
Once the shock wears off, anyway.