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Knights stuff Lancers, await potential State Bowl bid

CLAIREMONT MESA – After falling to Francis Parker in the championship game the past two seasons, Bishop’s finally got over the hump on Friday night. In the Division V finals at Mesa College, the top-seed Knights delivered a 20-9 victory over the 3-seed Lancers.

“You’re always focused on a championship and to get the opportunity to play for one is amazing and to win one is pretty awesome,” said Bishop’s head coach Joel Allen. “The kids stepped up and did it.”

Ahead 7-3 with 3:04 left in the second quarter, Bishop’s (13-0) broke the game open with a fourth down hook and ladder. Facing a fourth-and-3, Knights quarterback Joey Moreno threw a short pass to receiver Adam Malkiewicz and Malkiewicz flipped the ball back to running back Alec Fisher, who took the ball 37 yards for a touchdown.

“That’s something we put in this week,” Fisher said. “When my coach called it, to be honest I was like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me coach. We’re running a hook and ladder right now on fourth-and-3? Let’s just get the first down.”

Francis Parker (6-7) moved the ball inside the Bishop’s 20-yard line before the half, but couldn’t get any points. After the drive stalled, a Matt Wile 30-yard field goal attempt was blocked to keep the Knights up 11 at the half.

“We moved the ball between the 20s, but we weren’t able to finish,” said Francis Parker head coach John Morrison. “You can’t do that against a team like Bishop’s.”

Bishop’s kept the momentum after halftime by taking the opening drive 80 yards in four plays for a score. The drive was capped by a 52-yard Fisher touchdown run straight up the middle – his third of the game.

“We knew we had to come out strong if we wanted to keep this game in our control,” Fisher said. We knew we had to score on the opening drive and we came out fired up and we did just that.”

Trailing by 17, Francis Parker responded on the next drive by passing their way down the field. Lancers running back Kenny Brookins scored from seven yards out with five minutes left in the third quarter to make it 20-9.

“Our kids kept fighting,” Morrison said.

After a defensive stop, the Lancers marched down the field but couldn’t score with four plays inside the Bishop’s five-yard line. On fourth and goal from the one with 7:15 left, Francis Parker brought out the field goal unit but ran a fake and quarterback Warren Brody was stuffed inches short of the end zone.

“That’s just a kid trying to make a play,” Morrison said. “We took some risks and we knew we had to.”

The goal line stop was one of a host of big plays made by the Knights’ defense. Bishop’s held Francis Parker to their second lowest total of the season and well under their playoff average of 40 points per game.

“The defense stepped up,” Allen said. “It was nice to step up and play a defensive game and it was game we wanted to be in. We didn’t want to get in a shootout with them.”

For Bishop’s, the title is their first since 2007. The Knights beat Francis Parker twice this season, avenging lopsided losses to the Lancers in each of the past two Division V title games.

“It’s more special, especially against this team,” Fisher said. “Beating a good team twice is a hard thing to do and we were able to do it because we’re a great team. We just came out on top the second time in a row.”

With a section title in hand, Bishop’s now waits until Sunday to see if they are selected for a State Bowl. The Knights have a shot at the Division III South bid and could be considered for the Division IV South bid if there are fewer than three section champions with an enrollment of less than 500 – a distinct possibility.

“Our goal was CIF and whatever happens after that is going to be a plus,” Allen said. “If we get a call on Sunday great, and if we don’t we’re okay with that.”

“If we get a chance we’re not going to take it lightly,” Fisher said. “We’ll do everything we can to become state champs.”

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