FRESNO — For Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, it seemed like every play went right. And for Bakersfield Christian it seemed like every play went horribly wrong. All that added up to blowout in Fresno on Friday night.
No. 2 San Joaquin Memorial (10-2) got revenge with a 49-7 win over No. 3 Bakersfield Christian (10-2) at home on Friday in the semifinal round of the Central Section Division III playoffs.
The Eagles knocked off the Panthers one season ago before capturing the Central Section title. This year, it’ll be San Joaquin Memorial that moves on in an attempt to win its first section championship since 2003.
The Eagles’ nine-game winning streak and season ended all at once.
“I know what happened,” BCHS head coach Darren Carr said. “No. 1, we just didn’t come out and play ball. It was flat pregame. (I) tried to get them going, some guys tried to get going a little bit. Just came out and didn’t execute, man.”
Panthers quarterback Alex Trujillo put on a show with six touchdowns passes, a touchdown run and 377 total yards from either his arm or legs. He had six completions of 30 yards or more. Nick DiCeglie was the biggest beneficiary with two scores and 136 yards.
Eagles quarterback senior Braden Wingle — who set the section single-season record for passing yards last year — was just 18-for-48 with two interceptions, one touchdown and 184 yards. At least 10 of his incompletions were clear drops by his receivers.
“He is tremendous,” Carr said of Wingle’s career. “Someone needs to take a shot on this kid. … He could go out there right now and call an NFL playbook,” Carr added regarding Wingle’s intelligence.
The BCHS head coach summed up the first two drives of the game succinctly. “Offensive and defense all work together,” he said. “You get a couple dropped balls, you give the ball back to them. You blow a coverage and there’s a touchdown.”
That seemed to be the case the entire game — rinse and repeat.
The Eagles went three-and-out after a drop on third down that hit Devyon Miller in the face. Trujillo completed a 30-yard pass and ran it in from the 32. BCHS punted on its second drive and DiCeglie made a catch before slipping through a few defenders for the 41-yard score.
Just more than midway through the first quarter, the Panthers already had a 21-0 lead. They scored 28 before the Eagles finally found the back of the end zone on a perfect throw from Wingle to Nick Surber at the pylon.
But that was the only score the Eagles would get. They failed two other times on fourth-and-goal. San Joaquin Memorial scored on all but one of its first seven drives and punted just twice the entire game.
“You’re running some zones, you got guys thinking it’s man,” Carr said of what went wrong with the defense. “You’re running some man, guys thinking it’s zone. It’s all about the kind of work you put in during the week. If you’re getting confused that’s a you issue.”
Ironically, he thought his team had its best week of practice all year.
Frustrations boiled over in the third quarter with one BCHS player calling for another to be pulled off the field on defense. They got into a shoving match on the field. The player taken out got into another shoving match with a teammate on the sideline and at least one parent jumped down to the sideline from the stands.
“They just wanted it more than us tonight,” Wingle said. “We just didn’t play our game tonight.”