The Mark Speckman era at Menlo College kicked off with a bang on Saturday, as the Oaks scored three second-half touchdowns and came away with a 28-13 nonconference victory over the University of British Columbia in Canada.
The Oaks (1-0) travel to perennial NCAA DIII powerhouse Linfield College on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Menlo has never beaten the Wildcats and is winless in 13 chances all-time.
That could change after an impressive ground attack was the story in Speckman's coaching debut for the Oaks, who racked up 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Junior wide receiver Michael Alexander led the charge with three of the four scores, including the contest's first touchdown, a 1-yard rush with 6:39 to go in the second.
The advantage would be short-lived for Menlo, as on the ensuing drive the Thunderbirds found the end zone to knot the score at 7 with only 2:17 remaining until intermission.
UBC wasn't finished before the two squads hit the locker room, finding the end zone with just seven seconds left in the half to take a 13-7 lead into the break.
The two scores in the final 2:17 would be it for UBC, after a stingy Oaks' defense excelled in the second half.
Menlo forced a three-and-out on the second half's opening possession, and then promptly pushed the ball right down the field for a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, finished off by Alexander' 3-yard scoring run to propel Menlo to a 14-13 lead with 8:31 remaining in the third.
Alexander ended the day with 84-yards on the ground and with the aforementioned three touchdowns. The Pasadena native now has found the end zone four times against UBC in two seasons.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Oaks, as two more rushing touchdowns sealed the deal. Sophomore Vince Snyder punched it in from three yards out less than a minute into the final frame, and Alexander did it one final time with a 10-yard scoring scamper with 3:30 left until the final gun.
Defensively, Menlo held the Thunderbirds to just 105 total yards in the second half, in addition to winning the turnover battle, 2-1. The game's only interception was by Menlo sophomore defensive back Kaiiron Richards, who picked off sophomore quarterback Dominik Bundschuh late in the fourth to effectively end any British Columbia comeback hopes.
The Oaks received stellar play from junior linebacker James Yoder, senior linebacker Devon Jonsson, and senior defensive lineman Tony Ramirez. Yoder led the defense with nine total tackles, Jonsson chipped in with 7.5, two tackles for loss, and a team leading 1.5 sacks, while Ramirez did his part with six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack totaling 15 yards.
Junior running back Thomas Reynolds led Menlo with 90 rushing yards, averaging a strong 5.6 yards per carry. Senior quarterback Matt Pelasasa managed the game nicely, completing 11-of-15 for 117 yards, while not producing a turnover and was sacked just once. Senior wide receiver Robert Adan came away with four catches for 52 yards after a dominating 2011 campaign in which he earned NAIA All-Independent first-team recognition.
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