CARSON, Calif. –
For a brief moment in the second half of the CIF Division IV State Football Championship, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine for the Brookside Christian Knights.
Trailing 20-6 to the
Bishop's (La Jolla, Calif.)
Knights in the third quarter, thanks in part to a dropped pass on fourth down in the second quarter that led to a late Bishop's touchdown, Brookside Christian (Stockton, Calif.)
(Stockton) recovered an Alec Fisher fumble at its own 14-yard line and embarked on an 86-yard drive.
Playing in a steady drizzle that made holding onto the ball difficult and catching passes even harder, the Knights covered the distance in three plays – an 8-yard pass from Tony Rodriguez to Larry Fullard, a 62-yard run by Shaquille Hill and a 16-yard pass from Rodriguez to Fullard in the left corner of the end zone.
Rodriguez then hit Fullard again with an over-the-shoulder pass for the two-point conversion and Brookside Christian was within a touchdown of Bishop's at 20-14. The Knights recovered the ensuing onside kick and it looked like the team from Stockton had a chance to take the lead against their La Jolla counterparts.
"How we were going to respond at that moment was important," said Bishop's coach Joel Allen. "We fumble, they scored and then they get the onside kick. Not a great way to start the second half. But our kids found a way to step up and I'm really proud of them."
Bishop's responded with 20 straight points to turn the close game into a 40-14 rout. The victory allowed the Knights to finish the season 14-0 while dropping Brookside Christian to 12-1.
Alec Fisher did the bulk of the work for Bishop's, rushing for 167 yards and four touchdowns while also catching a touchdown pass.
"I dream pretty big, but I don't know if I would have dreamed that I would score five touchdowns in a state championship game," said Fisher.
The two teams showcased differing styles with Brookside Christian attempting 33 passes in the game and gaining 196 of its 272 total yards through the air. Bishop's School, meanwhile, ran for 300 yards and had 95 passing.
But the most telling stat of the game belonged to the punters of the two teams – zero yards on zero punts.
Brookside Christian, in fact, went for it on fourth down deep in its own territory three times and failed to convert. All three attempts led to Bishop's touchdowns by Fisher. The wet weather was at least partly to blame.
"We had nine dropped passes all season long," said Brookside Christian coach LaTe'F Grim. "We had nine drops today, five of them on fourth down."
Going for it on fourth down, however, was never a question for Grim and the Knights.
"That's how we play. We don't even have a punter," said Grim. "Our philosophy is that you have four downs to get 10 yards. We've played that way all season."
Allen's team was never in a position where it needed to punt, but he understood Brookside Christian's philosophy.
"When you get this late in the season, you try not to change too many things," said Allen. "You weigh your options in weather like this. They have probably had a lot of success this year doing it that way."
Bishop's had no trouble catching Brookside Christian's passes early on. Robby Stiefler intercepted Brookside Christian quarterback Tony Rodriguez on the fourth play of the game to set up Bishop's first touchdown. The Knights went 71 yards on five plays with Fisher scoring on a two-yard run with 8:28 left in the opening quarter.
Stiefler quickly made it 13-0 following the kickoff as he intercepted Rodriguez again and returned the pick 39 yards for a score with 7 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
"We knew they were going to throw a lot of short routes, so I just worked on jumping them," said Stiefler.
Bishop's nearly got a score on its third possession, but it came up short on fourth down at the Brookside Christian 8.
This time, Rodriguez was able to move Brookside Christian 92 yards for a score. He completed six passes on the drive for 98 yards including a 13-yard pass to Fullard in the back of the end zone.
Bishop's responded with a drive to the Brookside Christian 8, but a fumble by Fisher gave the ball back to Brookside Christian. That's when the first of the three futile fourth-down decisions came back to bite the Knights.
A fourth-down pass by Rodriguez slipped through the hands of the receiver, giving Bishop's possession at the Brookside Christian 19. Bishop's got into the end zone with 21.4 seconds left on a swing pass from quarterback Joey Moreno to Fisher from six yards out.
Brookside Christian was able to get back into the game following Rodriguez's second touchdown pass to Fullard and the ensuing onside kick. However, the Knights went backwards three yards following the recovery. Bishop's took over, but Brookside Christian's Bruce Taft Jr. intercepted Moreno and returned it to the Bishop's 34.
The interception proved to be the end of the highlights for Brookside Christian. A short run by Hill and three incomplete passes gave the ball back to Bishop's at its own 32. Fisher culminated a 68-yard drive with a 2-yard run to put the Knights up 26-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Following the kick, Brookside Christian went four downs and out at its own 23. Fisher again did the honors, scoring on a 7-yard run with 7:10 left in the game.
Brookside Christian was able to get a first down on its next possession, but a sack by Micah Seau on fourth down gave Bishop's the ball back at the Brookside Christian 38. Five plays later Fisher was into the end zone with his fifth touchdown of the game.
Fisher's 167 rushing yards are the fourth most in Bowl Game history while his five total touchdowns are tied for first. His four rushing touchdowns are tied for second.
Moreno completed 6 of 11 passes for 95 yards to lead the Bishop's passing attack while Rodriguez completed 15 of 31 passes for 184 yards and two scores for Brookside Christian. Hill led Brookside Christian's rushing totals with 74 yards on five carries.Video of the game
Bishop's 40, Brookside Christian 14
Bishop's vs. Brookside Christian
Cover image by Kirt Winter
Brookside Christian 0 6 8 0 - 14
Bishop's 13 7 0 20 - 40First Quarter
B - Fisher, Al., 3 yd run (Gantz kick), 8:28
B - Stiefler 39 yd interception return (kick failed), 7:49Second Quarter
BC - Fullard 12 yd pass from Rodriguez (pass failed), 9:19
B - Fisher, Al., 5 yd pass from Moreno (Gantz kick), 0:22Third quarter
BC – Fullard 16 yd pass from Rodriguez (Fullard pass from Rodriguez), 7:39Fourth quarter
B - Fisher, Al., 1 yd run (run failed), 11:31
B - Fisher, Al., 7 yd run (Gantz kick), 7:10
B - Fisher, Al., 8 yd run (Gantz kick), 2:06Team statistics
First downs: B 20, BC 12
Rushing attempts/yards: B 51-300, BC 26-76
Passing: B 6-11-1-95, BC 16-33-2-196
Total yards: B 395, BC 272
Fumbles/lost: B 4/3 BC 1/0
Penalties: B 5-39, BC 2-10
Time of possession: B 28:14, BC 19:46Individual statisticsRushing
BC: Hill 5-74, Evans 3-8, Fernandez 6-4, Rodriguez 11-(-3), Caldron 1-0. Bishop's: Al. Fisher 23-167, Au. Fisher 12-44, Stiefler 5-35, Moreno 5-31, Seau 4-27, Love 1-(-4). Passing
BC: Rodriguez 15-31-2-184, Caldron 1-2-0-12. Bishop's: Moreno 6-11-1-95. Receiving
BC: Fullard 7-86, Hill 4-64, Taft 3-25, Coffield 1-12, Fernandez 1-9. Bishop's: Love 2-43, Al. Fisher 3-33, Malkiewicz 1-19. Tackles
BC: Evans 15, Leon 14, Fullard 11, Gowans 10. Bishop's: Al. Fisher 11, Au. Fisher 7, Love 6. Records:
Bishop's 14-0, Brookside Christian 12-1.