Eric Bieniemy proved Friday night that ball-control offense does not have to be boring.
Unveiling the same kind of run-oriented offense that he became known for at Colton and L.A. Baptist high schools, Don Markham’s debut as coach at La Puente Bishop Amat was a success, thanks mainly to Bieniemy’s 198 yards and three touchdowns, as the Lancers defeated Riverside Rubidoux, 31-0, at Rubidoux in the season opener.
A success, yes, but not necessarily a complete success.
“We can be better,” Markham said. “We didn’t play very well. The defense was super, but the offense was kind of sputtering. We couldn’t pass much and guys kept getting hurt and going out.”
To anybody who watched quarterback Rick Carter hand the ball off to Bieniemy 25 times and a handful of other times to four other backs, it didn’t appear as though Bishop Amat, The Times’ fourth-ranked team in the Southern Section, was looking to pass. Carter completed 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Patterson.
Compared to Rubidoux, though, the Lancers gave a passing exhibition. Falcon quarterback Paul Lewis threw only once, and that was intercepted by defensive back Paul Marquez with 1:39 to play in the third quarter.
Rubidoux’s main weapon was Trevin Moore, the fast-stepping running back who was No. 1 in the state in rushing last season before he went out in the sixth game with an injury. Moore finished Friday with only 42 yards in 8 carries, the result of Bishop Amat’s 10-man front for most of the night.
Bieiemy, meanwhile, combined slashing moves and power running for second-half touchdown runs of 2, 5 and 10 yards to turn a 10-0 game at halftime into a convincing win.
A prime example of his prowess came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. From the Rubidoux 30, he took the ball from Carter and headed up the middle, rammed heads with a member of the Falcon secondary, spun outside and sprinted down the sidelines, a 46-yard gain.
Five plays later, three of which were his own runs, he went in from the 2, hurdling the last yard. The extra-point made it 17-0, and the Lancers, like Bieniemy and the season as a whole, were off and running.