By Rick Eymer
The Menlo-Atherton High football team was less than three minutes away from an important victory that might have led to a berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs and let it slip away yet again.
It's saying something about the Bears' talented players that despite a horrific start to the season, they still had a chance to extend their season with two weeks to go.
It also says something about the missed opportunities and last-minutes mistakes that have put M-A where it is, and that's out of contention.
The Bears lost to visiting Terra Nova, 31-21, in a PAL Bay Division contest on Friday afternoon in a game they needed to win, and could have.
M-A (1-3, 2-6) jumped to a 14-0 lead before the game was five minutes old. Terra Nova fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and Taylor Mashack found himself with a ball in his hands and clear sailing from 27 yards out 10 seconds into the contest.
A little more than four minutes later, Uilifeleti Fonua and Richard Cornew connected on a nine-yard scoring toss.
Then things turned sour. The Bears missed a field goal try, and then later fumbled away a chance to score a touchdown before halftime. Instead, Terra Nova hit a field goal to take the edge into the intermission.
The Bears had other promising moments. They soaked up most of the third quarter driving for their own go-ahead score in the third quarter, a 13-yard run from Cameron Moody.
They kept Terra Nova's vaulted offense off the field and that led to an M-A lead at 21-17. It was a lead that held until the Tigers scored with 2:14 remaining to play.
A last-ditch effort was intercepted and returned for a touchdown to finalize things.
Still, there were some good things. Moody, Mashack and Junior Sakalia combined for 123 rushing yards and senior defensive end Alfie Herman was in Terra Nova's backfield often enough to make friends.
Austin Clarence and David Abbott also contributed defensive highlights.
The Bears can still finish strong and make an impact on the PAL Bay Division race. Burlingame visits Friday for a 2:45 p.m. contest.