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Bishop Diego Crushes San Marino, Advances to CIF Semifinals

Cardinals score 38 unanswered points en route to a 59-21 rout

Bishop Diego’s Chris Jablonka tackles San Marino running back Beau Hobbie for a short gain. Click to view larger
Bishop Diego’s Chris Jablonka tackles San Marino running back Beau Hobbie for a short gain.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Bishop Diego booked its seventh trip to the CIF-Southern Section football semifinals in 12 years.

The top-seeded Cardinals put on a dominating performance in beating San Marino, 59-21, in a Division 6 quarterfinal game on Friday night at La Playa Stadium.

Adrian Sorocco rushed for 149 yards on just five carries and scored three touchdowns, quarterbacks Jake Engel and David Gladish each threw a long TD pass and defensive lineman Mitch Heller scored on an interception as Bishop Diego overpowered the visiting Titans and improved to 11-1.

The victory sets up a semifinal match-up at Saugus next Friday. Saugus pulled out a 28-27 win over St. Paul in the quarterfinals.

Bishop jumped on San Marino for four touchdowns and field goal for a 31-0 lead at halftime.

It took a 73-yard punt by Jack Luckhurst to kick start the Cardinals. They had an awful first offensive possession, starting at the 30 and going backward to the 15. But Luckhurst provided a huge boost with his monster punt that put San Marino back on its 12-yard line.

The Titans got one first down before punting from their 32.  

Isaiah Veal hauls in a 61-yard scoring pass from quarterback David Gladish in the first quarter. Click to view larger
Isaiah Veal hauls in a 61-yard scoring pass from quarterback David Gladish in the first quarter.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Bishop Diego took over at its 38 and on second down Gladish connected with Isaiah Veal on a 61-yard bomb for a touchdown. Luckhurst kick the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

It was quite a turnaround.

“(The punt) was huge because we went backwards on that series and ended up in a position where we risk giving them real good field position and a short field,” Bishop coach Tom Crawford said. “Then all of a sudden you get a kick like that and it’s tilted the field back. 

Whatever questionmarks people had in our offensive series quickly dissipated with a kick like that. Again, it shows what a weapon Jack is.”

The Cardinals were now in control. On San Marino’s next series, Dylan Streett picked off quarterback Blake Cabot at the Titans’ 45 and returned it to the 3.

Two plays later, John Harris scored from 1 yard out and Luckhurst kicked the PAT for a 14-0 lead with 4:29 left in the first quarter.

Harris, who sat out last week’s playoff opener while recovering from a knee injury, saw very limited action on Friday. In his place, the Cardinals ran effectively with Evan McKeegan, Sorocco, Nick Kislow and Chris Mesipam. Bishop racked up 302 yards on the ground.

The defense then got into the act in spectacular fashion. Heller pushed back San Marino’s tackle, got his hands up and swatted a pass attempt by Cabot. He kept his eyes on the ball, caught it and rumbled 35 yards for the Cardinals’ third TD.

Mitch Heller (35) is congratuated by his Bishop Diego defensive teammates after returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. Click to view larger
Mitch Heller (35) is congratuated by his Bishop Diego defensive teammates after returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“I’ve really been wanting that all season,” Heller said of the defensive touchdown. “When I saw the opportunity, I just took it and took off at full speed. I saw (the ball) and kind of reached out for it, pulled it in and just took off.”

He was thrilled to score a touchdown on defense.

“It’s a big deal. I don’t have that many, so it was nice to get one in.”

Crawford was impressed.

“That was huge,” the coach said. “Any time you can score on defense or special teams, it’s kind of a backbreaker for the other team.”

The defense forced another San Marino (8-4) punt and the offense responded with another touchdown.

Starting at the 15, Engel hit Veal for a 50-yard gain, Harris used hits blockers to run 16 yards and Mesipam finished the drive with a powerful 19-yard run and a 28-0 lead with 7:14 left in the second quarter.

Luckhurst kicked a 25-yard field goal with 33 seconds left for a 31-0 halftime lead.

The left-handed Cabot got San Marino on the board on its first possession of the second half. He competed a 36-yard pass to Sean Richardson, and had runs of 22 and 9 yards before scoring on a 1-yard run with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Bishop responded with a 44-yard touchdown run by Sorocco to make it 31-7. Isaia provided a great block down field.

Morones was rewarded with a touchdown, hauling in a 59-yard pass from Engel. Freshman Adam Luckhurst kicked the first of his three PATs for a 45-7 lead.

Cabot’s work got the Titans a second touchdown. He finished a 51-yard drive with 7-yard scoring run.

Sorocco put the capper on the victory with a pair of dazzling touchdown runs. He blasted off tackle for a 30-yard score and showed off his quick feet and slick moves on a 59-yard dash.

“I give all thanks to the line,” Sorocco said. “They make the holes, I just hit the holes and run as hard as I can.”

Said coach Crawford: “Adrian is so patient. He’s very physical, he’s deceptively physical when he runs. He stepped up big time for us, particularly since he was playing defense.”

The Cardinals once again showed they can beat teams in different ways and get big performances for several players.

“We’re really proud of the guys in terms of their ability to turn the page and focus on the next thing in front of them,” Crawford. “I think part of it is we have guys who can step in and play. At this point of the season, health becomes a big factor; you’re depth is really important and it’s nice to have games where we getting all our guys on the sideline in the games and they’re getting work. That’s one thing that keeps the guys energized. We’re real pleased with the support the guys who come out of the game are giving the guys coming into the game.

“They care about one another, so it’s nice to see it come through. When you’re winning, it’s a little easier. We got to turn the page and look at the next one."

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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