SANTA CLARA — Since the dawn of the 1987 football season, Cal Lutheran Coach Bob Shoup has both extolled the virtues of high academia and bemoaned the fact that CLU's version--in its own mind, at least--is a bit higher than other Western Football Conference schools.
That would explain, so the thinking went, why the Kingsmen were more likely to become nuclear physicists or brain surgeons than good football players. After all, they had to satisfy stringent entrance requirements (2.75 grade-point average and 1,000 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test) to be eligible for scholarships at CLU.
While Shoup's hypothesis might have been believable, it didn't endear him to conference opponents when he further implied that some players at other schools were relative dumbos. Not coincidentally, those same players who Shoup said "couldn't get into CLU" were the ones blowing his team off the field.
All of this magna cum laude talk came to an end Saturday, though, when the Kingsmen were beaten by a better--and probably smarter--Santa Clara team, 29-11, before 4,972 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Not only did the Broncos outscore CLU on the board, they outscored them on the college boards. Entrance standards at Santa Clara require a 3.0 GPA and 1,000 on the SAT.
After the game, in which the Kingsmen stayed within a touchdown until late in the third quarter, Shoup complimented the winners, saying: "They played aggressive and consistent. And they didn't make mistakes."
For the record, the coach then added, "They played intelligently."
Cal Lutheran, conversely, made more than its share of, shall we say, unintelligent mistakes.
Before two minutes had elapsed, quarterback Tom Bonds hung up a cross-field pass from his own goal line toward Joe Monarrez, who was streaking up the left sideline. But the ball ended up in the hands of defensive back Pat Williams, who jumped in front of Monarrez and ran unscathed into the end zone.
Later, after the teams traded field goals, another Bonds pass was intercepted when defensive back Dan Cusack tipped the ball and linebacker Paul Rebholtz grabbed it and ran to the CLU 29. Four plays later, tight end Geoff Cook caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Broncos quarterback Greg Calcagno at the 2:15 mark of the third quarter.
Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Bonds threw another interception, this one coming at the 47 where Cusack cradled the pass and returned it to the CLU 20. Four plays later, Bryan Smith scored from the one, breaking the game open for the Broncos, 22-3.
Bonds' fourth interception killed a Kingsmen drive that began on the CLU 24 and ended in the Santa Clara end zone with Cusack in possession of the ball. Bonds' pass, intended for John Bankhead, was downed by Cusack and the Broncos began another drive. This time, they went 80 yards in nine plays and built a 26-point lead, 29-3.
Bonds, who has stayed relatively interception-free during his standout career at CLU, had few explanations for his four against Santa Clara. In last year's 33-9 loss to the Broncos, he threw five interceptions.
"I can't explain it," he said. "I've never thrown more than three interceptions ever--except against this team. They had so many defensive backs that they were shutting down the passing lanes. It was tough to find any openings.
"I tried to roll out and create some lanes, but, obviously, I didn't create any."
Bonds, who still is pursuing the NCAA Division II career passing mark of 8,521 yards set by Jim Lindsey of Abilene Christian in 1970, didn't help his chances much Saturday. He completed 15 of 38 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Bonds has 6,981 yards with five games left.
For the senior to have a chance, his receivers will have to hold onto the ball better than they did against Santa Clara. Bankhead, who managed to catch five passes, dropped at least as many. "John's a great athlete," Shoup said, "but he needs discipline. This wasn't his best game. He didn't practice during the week and it looked like it.
"Our receivers kept dropping the ball in key situations. We can't just . . . "
His voice trailed off, but everyone knew what he meant. The Kingsmen couldn't make dumb mistakes like that and expect to beat a smart team like Santa Clara.
One Cal Lutheran official summed it up when he muttered, "This was a stupid game. We didn't show too many smarts out there at all."