Cardinals blast Ukiah, 42-7

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Scoring points on defense was the goal and Cardinal Newman answered with a pick six to go ahead of Ukiah and never looked back Friday with a 42-7 win.

Cardinal Newman's Stephen Tomasin runs the ball during Friday's game at Cardinal Newman. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD)

The Wildcats’ passing game picked apart the Cardinals’ defense on their first possession and Ukiah was 10 yards away from the end zone. But a strong rush and tight coverage created an interception that defensive back Tim Moreno ran back for a touchdown.

Cardinal Newman converted two interceptions into scores — the other set up a 41-yard touchdown drive to close the first half — and had six takeaways in the game.

While the Cardinals turned over the ball three times, all in the first half, the defense kept Ukiah out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Ukiah gave it back twice on interceptions and lost the ball on downs to end the other possession.

“We were just being fast and being explosive. We worked on that a lot during practice,” said Phil Wright, one of Cardinal Newman’s top tacklers and defensive leaders. “We’re really trying to put some defensive points on the board.”

Having shut out its first two North Bay League opponents, Cardinal Newman appeared headed for a hat trick. Ukiah finally broke through on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Taylor to Aaron Dhuyvetter, with the big-play receiver cutting across and up the field for the score.

“For the most part we threw the ball pretty well. We drove the ball, but in the red zone we made some mistakes,” said Ukiah coach Jeff Schueller.

Big plays on both sides of the ball carried Cardinal Newman to the win.

Following the interception return for a score, Cardinal Newman forced a Ukiah punt and the Cardinals’ offense put together the team’s most sustained possession in the contest. Mixing a couple of passes with a handful of runs, Cardinal Newman went 52 yards with Stephen Tomasin going in from 2 yards out to put the Cardinals up by two touchdowns.

Staying with the pass, Ukiah covered half the field on four catches, including a 28-yard strike from Taylor to Kyle Hammond. Then a tipped pass was picked off by Thomas Robles.

After exchanging possessions, Cardinal Newman needed only three plays to score again — the biggest a 58-yard run by quarterback Matt Sullivan.

“It’s nice to have a quarterback that can run the ball well because it puts more pressure on the defense,” said Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin.

Still, with Ukiah able to move the ball quickly, the Wildcats were still in the game.

Getting the ball back on a fumbled punt return, Ukiah promptly went down to the Cardinal Newman 25. This time it was linebacker Matt Bowman who grabbed a tipped pass for an interception.

Four plays later, Sullivan hit Chris Quock in the right corner for a 17-yard touchdown pass — just one second before the half ended.

As the Cardinals’ started the game with the pass, so they went back to the air to open the second half. Six plays and 76 yards later, Cardinal Newman was up 35-0 after Wright — also the Cardinals fullback — took a pass in the left flat and went in for a touchdown.

“It was a great team effort,” Wright said.

Ukiah dug a hole the Wildcats couldn’t emerge from, turning the ball over on five of nine possessions until finally scoring.

Unable to generate any running game against the Cardinals’ large line, Ukiah passed more than it has the entire season. First-year starter Taylor was often sharp, completing 26 of 44 passes. Ukiah’s offensive line provided solid protection, giving up only two sacks.

“This kind of gives us confidence that we can play with the good teams, because Cardinal Newman is a good football team. It’s something to build on,” Schueller said.

What the Cardinals are building is another contender for an NBL crown.

“It’s a good win,” Wright said. “We’ve just got to keep after it.”

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