By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Cameron Moody rushed for 150 yards and scored a touchdown, Junior Sakalia added 57 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Menlo-Atherton football team stunned visiting Burlingame, 31-27, in a PAL Bay Division contest Friday.
Mike Culhane caught an eight-yard pass from Willy Fonua as the Bears (2-3, 3-6) knocked the Panthers out of title consideration, leaving the winner of Friday night's game between Sacred Heart Prep and host Terra Nova as the division champion.
The Bears' win was all the more startling in that they trailed, 27-0, with 7:09 remaining in the second quarter.
"We had to pick it up," Moody said. "We've come back before. We knew we had it in us."
Moody got it started, weaving 49 yards through the Panthers' defense for M-A's first score.
Kyle Zirbes' interception a minute later may have been the spark M-A needed. It led to Fonua's touchdown pass to Culhane and helped send the Bears into halftime on a note of confidence.
"That was the momentum changer," Moody said. "We needed to be on the same page and we came together."
The M-A team that had fumbled and bumbled its way into a 27-point hole was a crisp, aggressive group out of the locker room.
Burlingame gained 207 yards, but only 47 in the second half.
"The defense came to play," Moody said. "We had to start scoring."
Sam Falkenhagen probably had no idea he would be kicking for the lead after watching his team fall behind by so much. That doesn't matter, though, he says. He's always going to be ready.
Falkenhagen took a practice kick just before the second half of the game, something he does every time. It turned into a precursor for putting the Bears ahead for good.
"It's really just a warm-up," Falkenhagen said. "I don't get on the field that much, and I know college kickers do it and it's good to get the feel of it."
Sakalia broke at least three tackles during his 27-yard run for a score in the third quarter and then culminated an 11-play, 84-yard drive with a two-yard burst to tie the score at 27.
On came Falkenhagen, his holder Jonathan Hoech and long snapper Taylor Karis to try for the go-ahead PAT.
"It's harder to get things right when those guys play other positions," Falkenhagen said. "But we've got it down."
He added a 43-yard field goal with 4:37 left for the final margin of victory.
Terra Nova 43, Sacred Heart Prep 21
Colin Terndrup rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns and Pedro Robinson also scored but the Gators (3-2, 7-2) could not take advantage of the situation on the road.
Terra Nova's high-powered offense produced 435 total offensive yards, including 249 passing yards from Chris Forbes, who added four touchdowns. The victory, coupled with M-A's upset win over Burlingame, gave the Tigers the PAL Bay Division title.
The Gators rushed for 238 yards and passed for 112.
Sacred Heart Prep had a chance to win its first ever PAL Bay Division title, but after a fast-paced first quarter, things seemed to bend the Tigers' way.
Sacred Heart Prep next meets Menlo School in the Valpo Bowl.
Menlo School 32, South San Francisco 28
The Knights needed two big defensive plays by cornerback Jordan Williams, who broke up a pair of passes in the end zone in the final minute, to hold on for a crucial victory over visiting South San Francisco on Friday.
Menlo also had to rally from a 28-25 deficit in the final quarter as quarterback Robert Wickers scored from five yards out for the deciding points. He also completed 15 of 27 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns, both to fellow senior Tim Benton (eight catches for 142 yards).
Menlo gave up 230 rushing yards to Falah Salem (on 30 carries), who had 177 in the first half as the Warriors grabbed a 21-13 lead. The Knights regained the lead after Benton caught a 6-yard scoring pass from Wickers and Beau Nichols plunged over from a yard out. Salem's two-yard run put the Warriors on top, setting up Menlo's thrilling finish.