Bishop Diego defenders meet the St. Bonaventure running back in the hole. (Lily Chubb / Noozhawk Photo)

It’s been a tough start for the Bishop Diego High School football team so far this season and it didn’t get much better on Friday night to kick off league play.

The Cardinals lost their Marmonte League opener to the visiting St. Bonaventure Bonnies 32-7 at La Playa Stadium, as the team couldn’t generate any offense for the majority of the game and committed multiple mistakes.

“I think this was probably the most physical that we have played this season,” Bishop Diego coach Tom Crawford said. “We took a big leap from the level of physicality that we showed or didn’t show two weeks ago, so I think we made a lot of plays and the kids were willing to be physical and so that was a big area of improvement.”

With the loss, Bishop Diego fell to 1-4 overall with an 0-1 start to league play while St. Bonaventure improved to 3-2 with a 1-0 start to league play, now riding a two-game winning streak.

St. Bonaventure generated 299 yards of total offense on Friday night, but it was far more than what the Cardinals were able to muster.

Overall, Bishop Diego didn’t even register 150 yards of total offense, with 83 of those yards coming from running back Oscar Mauia’s eight carries.

The sophomore scored the only touchdown for the Cardinals on Friday, breaking off a 50-yard run with under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter to put his team on the board.

“The best thing about him is that he’s got the grit of some of our past running backs in terms of not wanting to go down and the area that he’s improving in the most, as evidenced by the touchdown run, was his vision,” Crawford said.

Tua Rojas made his return to the field on Friday but only played the first half. (Lily Chubb / Noozhawk Photo)

“It was a play that was designed to come to the left and they slanted hard in that direction and he was able to see that he had a cutback lane and he took it so that was an experienced play. For him to do that only as a sophomore he just will keep on getting better as he gets more reps.”

Fellow Bishop Diego sophomore, quarterback Tua Rojas, who has been battling injury, was well enough to start on Friday. However, he did not finish the game, not playing the second half while icing his throwing shoulder.

Rojas only completed one pass and threw an interception against a stingy St. Bonaventure defense.

“Defense is our identity at St. Bonaventure,” Bonnies coach Joey Goyeneche said. “We want to run the football and play great defense and hats off to Bishop Diego, they were able to stop our run essentially up front and those guys battled, but we made some big plays and made plays when it mattered in the second half and so we will take the win.”

The big plays Goyeneche was referring to mostly came after the second quarter.

The Bonnies’ defense forced two safeties in the first quarter, giving them a 4-0 lead.

The offense finally got going when quarterback Kaden Glover found receiver Jack Cunningham for a 40-yard pickup and set them up in Bishop Diego territory.

The Bonnies would punch it in from two yards out a few plays later to go up 11-0.

Then, the real killer came right before the half. 

The Bonnies took over at the Bishop Diego 41-yard line with 35 seconds left. 

After a 6-yard run, St. Bonaventure snapped the ball with no time left and Glover found a wide-open receiver down the right sideline, giving them an 18-0 halftime lead.

“That’s just a youthful mistake, obviously,” Crawford said. “I thought about calling a timeout before, but then I was sitting there thinking why would I let them set up for a play? Unfortunately, that play really took the air out of the balloon.”

The Bonnies then scored on their first drive out of the second half with senior wideout DJ Doss taking a slant and running 50 yards for a score.

Doss later added a 14-yard touchdown reception to make the score 32-0.  

A Washington State commit, his coach said “Doss is the best athlete I think that we’ve had as St. Bonaventure within the last 10 years.”

“He can move at a different speed,” Goyeneche said. “He’s got strength that other guys don’t have and so that combination of strength and speed and tenacity, it’s hard to stop and so we’ve got to try to put the ball in his hands and put him in position to be successful but he’s special and Washington state’s going to be getting a good one.”

Bishop Diego did generate four sacks during the contest as well.

Mays Pese turned in a solid night defensively for the Bishop Diego pass rush and run defense. (Lily Chubb / Noozhawk Photo)

“The biggest issue was the fact we just could not get anything offensively going and really helped out our defense,” Crawford said. “Even when we were punting the ball, they were getting the short fields and so it put a lot of pressure on us defensively so that’s an area we really need to get better at.”

Bishop Diego will take on Oaks Christian next week on the road.