The Bishop’s School Knights put a stranglehold on the cross-town rival La Jolla High School Vikings in the first Pearl Street Game Sept. 5, offering La Jolla High’s speed-up offense as a sacrifice to the gods and toying with the Viking defense as two-way player Bulla Graft amassed 117 yards on the ground, while helping straitjacket quarterback Collin Rugg and company from his position as safety. Bishop’s controlled most phases of the game, dominating possession of the ball, and won going away, 42-7.
A populous crowd for each side — Bishop’s faithful dressed in all-white in the visitors’ bleachers, La Jolla in all-black opposite them — thrilled to the first contest for the so-called Pearl Street Trophy, a replica of the street sign of the avenue that separates the two local high schools.
It was blastoff for the Vikings, their first home game, even though both teams use Edwards Field as their home field.
The victorious student section, which stood the entire game, chanted “We run LJ” early in the fourth quarter after Bishop’s freshman Mozes Mooney picked off a Rugg pass with the Knights up 35-7, thereby sealing the Vikings’ demise.
Whiteout fans lingered on the field after the game pretty much until the stadium lights were dimmed. Meanwhile, the blackout aficionados of LJHS fell silent after a thunderous opening and finally went silently into the dark night (darkened by the Knights).
Bishop’s quarterback Griffin Seaman efficiently guided his offense to a touchdown on the opening possession of the game, chewing up seven minutes of valuable time and keeping the ball away from La Jolla’s offense.
There were numerous penalties in the game, this drive not being exempt. But the junior field general, who finished with 14 of 22 for 186 yards passing, threw a strike to Mooney in the end zone to put the Knights up, 6-0.
After the defense forced La Jolla to turn the ball over on downs, the Knights offense came back with a Graft touchdown reception just before the end of the first quarter, and Bishop’s led 14-0. There was no turning the prep boys back.
Instead of wearing down as they played both platoons on offense and defense, as La Jolla High coach Jason Carter had hoped in the face of his no-huddle spread attack, Bishop’s gained strength as the game progressed. Besides Mooney and Graft, there were several other Knights who went both ways. The only time they flagged was in the opening minute-and-a half of the third quarter, when La Jolla rushed the ball twice via Joe Vang, then Rugg caught a wide-open Carlton O’Neal at the goal line with a 23-yard dart for the Vikings’ only score of the night.
Bishop’s Coach Joel Allen’s contingent led 21-0 at halftime, and 28-7 after three quarters. Bishop’s can rightly claim city football supremacy for the year, since it vanquished La Jolla convincingly after La Jolla mauled Country Day 64-19 the week before.
Gushed the senior Graft, a four-year starter and captain who piled up 146 yards rushing in a 34-0 rout at Clairemont on opening night the week before, “We came out in practice this week focused. We ran every play they run (to prepare for them). We were ready. It’s a great feeling.”
Graft was mesmerizing on a few of his runs and catches, some called back due to penalties. His longest run was 28 yards. He had a fabulous diving catch for 36 yards down the right sideline that led to the Knights’ fourth touchdown.
Allen calmly shared: “It feels good. I think the kids just played hard. They didn’t get caught up (in the hoopla of the rivalry). They just came out and played good football.”
— For the La Jolla High Vikings (1-1), Vang, a sophomore, was outstanding in only his second varsity game, with 82 yards on 17 carries. Rugg completed nine of 18 passes for 100 yards. O’Neal had four receptions for 47 yards, Brandon Bonham three catches for 33 yards.
On defense, safeties Isaac Gutierrez and Da’Jour Tims had to be active in dealing with the Bishop’s wing-T offense.
La Jolla next travels the long way to Fallbrook Sept. 12 in week three of the young season.
— For The Bishop’s Knights (2-0) on defense, sophomore tackle Daniel Anderson and defensive end Cyrus Nolan had their names announced after numerous stops throughout the contest.
On offense, Reggie Davis and A.J. Britanico gave the Vikings fits, Davis rushing 12 times for 38 yards and Britanico carrying 15 times for 22 yards and adding 26 yards on receptions.
Bishop’s will next hosts Instituto Mexico Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
(—Bishop’s stats provided by Aida Ayala and Vanessa Walther-Meade.)