Opportunity didn't have to knock for Cardinal Newman Friday night, Casa Grande's Gauchos simply handed it to the Cardinals.
Casa Grande gave Cardinal Newman five chances on turnovers and it was more than enough for the defensive-minded Cardinals to roll up a 25-7 win on a night Gaucho fans saluted the team's seniors.
It was a tough ending to a good first season in the North Bay League for the Gauchos, who finish with a 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 league mark.
Even better news for the Gauchos is that they don't have to end with the mistake-marred game. They can still look forward to the North Coast Section playoffs.
"Our season is far from over," noted Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog.
Nor is the season over for Cardinal Newman. While the Gauchos compete in Division 2 of the playoffs, Cardinal Newman, after finishing its season with a 6-1 league and a 9-1 overall record, should be in line for a first-round home game in Division 3.
Despite a determined effort, Friday night was just not much fun for the Gauchos.
On Casa Grande's second play from scrimmage, running back John Porchivina had the ball stripped away by Cardinal Newman's Julian Torres and recovered by Chris Steele.
Four plays later, Cardinal Newman's Jacob Webb jumped over a Casa Grande defender to make an exceptional grab of a 20-yard Keaton Dunsford pass in the end zone and the tone for a gloomy Casa Grande evening was set.
Casa Grande lost another fumble in its second possession. This time the Gaucho defense held, but field position, as it was the entire first half and most of the game, favored the Cardinals, and it was just a matter of time before Dunsford connected with Zack Reyes for a 14-yard score.
Casa Grande gave Cardinal Newman excellent field position again midway through the second period with an interception. Michael Mitchell, a hurt to the Gauchos all night, carried 24 yards in three plays, the last from the 10-yard line for the touchdown.
Cardinal Newman semi-earned its final touchdown with a 59-yard drive that culminated with a Dunsford to Kevin Lucey 20-yard touchdown pass.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal Newman defense swarmed all over Casa Grande quarterback JaJuan Lawson, sacking him five times.
The Gauchos did have their moments.
Their only touchdown came on a little shovel pass from Lawson that Porchivina exploded into a 38-yard touchdown that temporarily cut the Cardinal lead to 12-7 in the second quarter.
The Gauchos, behind the passing and running of Lawson, got to the Cardinal Newman 14-yard line at the end of the first half, but had to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt by Matt Abramo that was blocked.
The second half was mostly frustration against the swarming Cardinal defense for the Gauchos.
In other games involving local teams Friday night, Petaluma lost at Sonoma Valley, 17-14, and St. Vincent won at Calistoga, 47-21. With the win at Calistoga goes a share of the North Central II/Bay Football League championship for the Mustangs.
For complete game story, see Thursday's Argus-Courier.