The first game of the Bishop Amat football season 2015 ended the same way as their CIF semi-final loss of last season. The Lancers had the opponents back on their heels, the game ripe for the taking. But instead of delivering the knockout punch, the Lancers ended up knocking themselves out, fumbling away their chance at victory, losing 24-21 to the Mater Dei Monarchs this Friday night.
It was the perfect setup. Down by three with less than four minutes left to play, the Lancers started on their 20 with all three timeouts in their pocket. The Monarchs had already used up their timeouts in the third quarter, so they couldn't stop the clock. The Lancers started the drive with a beautiful 30-yard pass from Damien Garcia to standout receiver Tyler Vaughns. With the ball on the 50, the Lancers had all their weapons ready to unload. So what did they do? They decided to pitch—yes, PITCH—the ball to Torreanho Sweet for a sweep around the right side. Of course the pitch went awry, a fumble, a Monarch recovery ensued, and the Lancers just shot themselves in the foot.
Now, I saw this happen once in a pro game, and John Madden went apoplectic on the play selection. He went on and on about protecting the ball at all cost in situations like this. He was quite unforgiving in his criticism, even calling the play a Pop Warner mistake. You don't take chances with a pitch to the running back. Too much can go wrong, as it turns out. There's no reason to get cute at this crucial moment. You have Garcia who is whiz at running the option. The Lancers had been successfully HANDING the ball off to Sweet, who had two rushing TDs for the night.
One more bit of constructive criticism: You don't change horses midstream. At halftime it was already obvious that the QB-switching experiment was not working. You gotta go with the kid with the hot hand.
On a positive note, the defense was a scrappy unit. The Monarchs' early 14-point lead in the first quarter was the result of Bishop Amat mistakes—a bad snap to the punter and an interception—costing the Lancers field position. The unit was even resilient enough to hold Mater Dei to a field goal after the Monarchs took eight minutes off the clock on the opening drive of the third quarter. The defensive backs looked good, pretty much shutting down the Monarchs' passing game and even taking an interception to the house for the go-ahead score at halftime.
It's just the first game, and there is still time to work out all the kinks. But if the Lancers don't learn from the mistakes of the past, they will be condemned to repeat them.
Still, it was an exciting game, which is why Lancer football is the best ticket in town for a Friday night. Until next week. Go Big Blue!
The Lancers face Servite at home next Friday, September 4. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Hugo is a contributing writer to the ConceptuaLine blog and an accomplished copywriter in both English and Spanish. Catch him on Friday nights supporting Lancer football.