Turnovers doom error-prone Cardinals

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Another tough opponent, another difficult loss with critical turnovers the difference as Cardinal Newman fell to Palma at home Friday.

Cardinal Newman's Chris Quock pulls down a Matt Sulivan pass at the 5 yard line before running it in for a touchdown to make the score 10-7 Palma with 10:58 to go in the first half of their game against Palma High School at Cardinal Newman High School on Friday night September 24, 2010. (Scott Manchester / For The Press Democrat)

The Cardinals appeared to regain momentum after a second quarter score to get within a field goal. But the Chieftains scored late in the half following a fumble and wore down Cardinal Newman for a 31-7 win.

While the Chieftains, from Salinas, converted three of five turnovers for scores on the night, the Cardinals couldn’t capitalize on a pair of third quarter interceptions. Palma put the game away with two fourth quarter touchdowns.

“We were moving the ball, we were feeling good. But we let the turnovers get to us,” said Cardinal Newman running back Stephen Tomasin. “Those interceptions got us back in the game. That definitely helped our confidence. We just hurt ourselves.”

Familiar foes having played close games the past two seasons, Cardinal Newman and Palma prepared this week for a contest featuring strong, fast squads.

The difference for Palma, in addition to the turnover advantage, was a sharper passing game and a bruising runner — Jack Baird, with 108 yards on 26 carries.

“He earned every yard. Cardinal Newman played well up front,” said Palma coach Jeff Carnazzo. “It’s a good win against a quality opponent.”

With the crowd just settling in, Tomasin returned the opening kickoff 42 yards just past midfield.

But on the next play, Palma recovered a high snap over quarterback Matt Sullivan’s head. Still, the Cardinals held the Chieftains to a 23 yard field goal by Christian Cardona.

Palma then went 52 yards in nine plays, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Morrison to Noah Allen.

Matching the Chieftains, Cardinal Newman marched 53 yards in nine plays to cut into Palma’s lead. Tomasin carried three times for 13 yards, including the play that set up Sullivan’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Chris Quock.

Sullivan was involved in the big plays, including a 9-yard run, a third down pass to Phil Wright to keep the possession alive, and the touchdown connection.

“Our kids played hard. I think they really pressed. We need to relax,” said Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin.

Cardinal Newman’s highs and lows were illustrated on the next two possessions.

After forcing Palma to punt, Cardinal Newman was back on the move, mixing runs and passes to reach midfield.

Then another fumble off a high snap gave Palma the ball on a short field. The Chieftains capitalized four plays later on a 10-yard scoring pass.

That 17-7 halftime lead held until the midpoint of the final period when Palma stretched its advantage with Baird carrying the bulk of the load on offense.

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.