Cardinals start slow, then romp

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Another slow start, another strong finish.

Cardinal Newman running back Stephen Tomasin breaks a tackle attempt by Montgomery defender Tyler Domitri at the 10-yard line before running in for the touchdown. Tomasin scored four touchdowns in Cardinal Newman’s 42-9 win against Montgomery. (SCOTT MANCHESTER / FOR THE PD)

Cardinal Newman spotted Montgomery a 3-0 lead and then ran and passed over their hosts for a 42-9 win Friday.

The victory, coupled with Rancho Cotate’s 42-6 win over Ukiah, sets up a matchup next week between the Cougars and Cardinals for control of the North Bay League.

After struggling to string together first downs on their first five possessions, the Cardinals still managed to take the lead on a turnover for a touchdown. With the defense again keeping an opponent in check, the Cardinal Newman offense broke through for a pair of touchdowns late in the second quarter to gain control.

“We got off to a shaky start, but then things started clicking. It was a total team effort,” said Cardinal Newman’s Chris Quock, who caught a touchdown and intercepted a pass.

A year ago, Montgomery shut out Cardinal Newman in a hard-fought game. Nine points wouldn’t get the Vikings a win this time.

Montgomery struggled to move the ball from the start. When the Vikings had some momentum, fumbles stymied their advances.

“We turned the ball over too much in every game we lost. That’s pretty simple,” said Montgomery coach Jason Franci.

The only Cardinal Newman turnover — a first-quarter fumble — didn’t hurt, and the Cardinals wore down the Vikings. Montgomery’s defense was on the field for long stretches and appeared to tire as Newman’s offense gained its footing.

But the Cardinals had to work to swing the momentum back their way.

Cardinal Newman recovered a Montgomery fumbled punt return on the Vikings’ half of the field. After the Cardinals made a first down on a nice sideline pass connection from Matt Sullivan to Brian Albin, the Vikings’ defense stiffened. On third down, Caleb Sharp burst through to sack Sullivan. A 42-yard field goal attempt was short.

Going to a no-huddle offense on its next possession, Cardinal Newman was at the Montgomery 24-yard line when a high snap was recovered by the Vikings.

Grinding with its running game, Montgomery moved into what turned out to be field goal position. Chris Kelly booted a 42-yarder to open the scoring at the end of the first quarter.

On the next Montgomery possession, a fumble on a run for first-down yardage was scooped up by the Cardinals’ Lucas Bertoli, who scampered 30 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Held in check for most of two quarters, Cardinal Newman running back Stephen Tomasin suddenly found room to run. A pair of carries covering half the field, including a 35-yard scoring run, gave the Cardinals a 14-3 lead.

“Our offensive line has improved a lot,” said Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin. “Early in the season we were young. We’re real excited about how they’ve improved in the game.”

The game still within reach, Montgomery had a spark on a 19-yard run by Alex Ciudad-Real on first down. But another fumble put Cardinal Newman back in business on the Vikings’ 39 yard line.

Tomasin bolted through defenders and through some missed tackles for a 31-yard run. Three plays later, he was in the end zone again and Montgomery would go into the locker room searching for answers on offense and defense.

Cardinal Newman won the game of field position in the first half, pinning Montgomery deep on hanging punts and deep kickoffs. Montgomery started possessions inside its 20 on three of six possessions.

Taking over in Montgomery territory on three of seven possessions, the Cardinals scored on the last time with the ball and a 21-3 halftime lead.

As it did in the first half, the Cardinal Newman defense sparked the offense. Again starting inside its 20-yard line, Montgomery threw an incomplete pass and then went backwards with a sack forcing a punt.

A good return by Albin put the ball on the Montgomery 26-yard line. After a Tomasin run, Sullivan hit Quock on a fade route and he went in for the 23-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown.

“The running game got us going. Then we were able to find pass plays that worked,” Quock said.

The Cardinals’ defense came up big again. Quock grabbed a bullet off a tip and returned it to give the Cardinals another possession in great field position.

The biggest play on another swift Cardinal Newman scoring drive was a 16-yard pass to Quock. Tomasin took the ball in for a 35-3 lead.

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