By James Huber
Palo Alto Online Sports
Senior wide receiver Tommy Ford hauled in the game-winning touchdown catch midway through the fourth quarter and the Menlo School defense forced an incompletion on its own 10-yard line as time expired to secure a 16-12 nonleague football victory over the Mission (San Francisco) Bears in Atherton on Friday afternoon.
Ford, who ended the night with four receptions for 101 yards, scored on a 30-yard pass with 6:51 left from sophomore quarterback Jack Heneghan to give Menlo (2-0) the lead for good. Ford's touchdown was set up by a stellar effort by the Knights' defense, which caused a turnover on downs to give the offense excellent field position.
"The backside seam was wide open the entire game," Ford said. "Jack (Heneghan) stepped up, threw a nice pass, nice easy catch for a touchdown."
The Knights, who won on a last second-second touchdown over Santa Cruz last Friday, made things interesting on the last drive of the game for Mission (1-1).
After both teams traded fumbles late in the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Davon Hargraves moved the Bears quickly downfield with deep passes to junior wide receiver Demitrius Thibeaux and senior wide receiver Algeron Malbrough. After Malbrough's 29-yard catch put Mission on the Menlo 10-yard line, the Bears had time for one final play. Menlo's defense pressured Hargraves into an incomplete pass as time expired however, preserving the Menlo victory.
"Our defense is one of the top defenses in our league," senior linebacker Spencer Buja said. "We have some really good players on the line and some really good defensive backs and linebackers."
The Menlo defense forced five fumbles on Friday, recovering two of them, and forced an interception.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but a 26-yard run by senior running back Dylan Mayer, who finished the night with 58 all-purpose yards, put Menlo into field-goal range. Junior kicker Timmy Costa, who made the game-winning PAT in Menlo's wild 19-18 comeback win last week, nailed a 36-yard field goal to put the Knights ahead 3-0 with 6:43 left in the second quarter.
Later in the second quarter, junior cornerback and wide receiver Connor Stastny picked off Hargraves's pass in Mission territory. After a 32-yard catch by senior wide receiver Chris Reed, Stastny caught a short ball from Heneghan and darted into the end zone from 15 yards out to put Menlo on top 10-0.
"We weren't playing our best at the time and the interception really set the tone," Stastny said. "I just got the ball and all I saw was a touchdown."
Mission answered right back to cut Menlo's halftime lead to 10-6. Junior quarterback Antoine Porter led the Bears downfield before catching a 20-yard touchdown from Hargraves with 30.4 seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, after seven consecutive runs, Mission took a 12-10 lead with senior tight end Oscar Campos's 24-yard touchdown reception before Ford caught his game-winning touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
Sacred Heart Prep 24, Riordan 17
Ryan Gaertner caught a 19-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jack Larson with 1:02 left in the game to pull out a hard-fought nonleague victory in San Francisco. The Gators (2-0) trailed the entire game before Gaertner's winning catch.
Will Morgan carried 13 times for a career-high 143 yards to lead a Sacred Heart Prep rushing attack that totaled 255 yards.
Sacred Heart Prep trailed 7-0 before Nic Kawasaki recovered a fumble in the end zone to tie the game in the second quarter. After Riordan went ahead 10-7, SHP answered again with Brendan Spillane kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 10-10 halftime deadlock.
Riordan (0-2) once again took the lead just into the fourth quarter, but Daver Refioglu scored on a 16-yard run for the Gators, who missed the point-after attempt and it was 17-16.
The SHP defense got the ball back deep in Riordan territory with under 2:00 left in the game. Four players later, Larson and Gaertner hooked up for the winner.
Tyler McCool, who had 145 rushing yards last week, was kept in check by Riordan. He finished with 43 yards on eight carries. Regioglu, in his first season of playing football, rushed for 44 yards. Larson was efficient again with 93 yards on 10-of-16 completions.