It was a game of tight defense and sloppy play — and ultimately it came down to the final seconds.
But unfortunately for Mission Prep’s football team, the final push was made by Bishop Diego, who won the regular-season finale between the two unbeatens 16-13 on Friday night.
The Cardinals (10-0) beat the Royals (9-1) on a 1-yard flea-flicker pass from Anthony Carter to B.J. Murillo to suck the wind out of a fired up home crowd in San Luis Obispo.
After scoring the game’s first points on a touchdown in the first quarter, Mission Prep was shut out until there was 4:49 left in the fourth quarter when Mission Prep quarterback Tyler Baty connected with Andy Rowley for a 30-yard touchdown pass to pull ahead 13-10.
But the Cardinals came marching back and used a 40-yard completion from Carter to Murillo to get into the red zone and set up the game-winner with seven seconds remaining.
Throughout the game, the defenses shut each other down and the Royals caused eight fumbles by Bishop Diego, including two they recovered.
Penalties in the game were a huge factor as well, with numerous delay-of-game violations called throughout.
Bishop Diego racked up 108 yards in penalties, and the Royals tallied 65.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games with all the penalties and some sloppy play,” Royals coach Chad Henry said. “But the kids played their hearts out on both sides. A play here and a play there and the game could have gone either way.”
Henry said that he was pleased with the emotion that his team brought to their biggest game of the season.
“Harnessing that emotion and executing was the challenge today,” Henry said. “But really it just came down to a few big plays in the game. And you saw two great defenses today.”
Baty threw for 164 yards, below his 240-yard per game average. He was hounded all night by the Cardinals’ defense, forcing hurried passes, sacks and broken plays.
Mission Prep running back Michael Cardwell was held to 55 yards. The Royals defense, meanwhile, held the Cardinals to 114 rushing yards, well below their season average of 300.
Henry said the game will help prepare his team for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, but losing for the first time this season “we’re going to have to bounce back quickly and show resiliency,” he said.