Uploaded: Saturday, October 27, 2012, 9:22 PM
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012, 9:14 AM
SHP keeps title hopes alive with win over M-A
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|By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Sacred Heart' Prep's stingy defense allowed only 177 total yards and had two interceptions to lead the Gators to a 14-7 win over crosstown rival Menlo-Atherton in a PAL Bay Division football game Saturday afternoon.
With the game tied and less than five minutes left, senior quarter back Kevin Donahoe threw a lob pass to wide receiver Rex Shannon for a seven-yard touchdown that won it for the Gators.
"Rex Shannon did an amazing job going up and getting that ball," said Donahoe. "It was a jump ball and he knew that the game was on the line -- we just had faith in our guys."
The Gators improved to 3-1 (7-1 overall) while M-A fell to 3-1 (5-3 overall). Both teams are now tied for first place in the division. To stay in the playoff hunt, the Bears need to win against host Terra Nova next Friday to stay in first place after suffering their first loss after four straight wins.
Terra Nova had control of the PAL race until suffering a 32-31 upset loss to Aragon on Friday night.
The Gators, who avenged last season's loss to M-A, travel to Half Moon Bay next Friday and will need to beat the last-place Cougars to stay in first place.
The Gators went into Saturday's matchup giving up only 4.1 points per game. The Bears' seven points were well below their season average of 19.9 per game. Sacred Heart has now outscored its opponents by a combined total of 232-54.
"We broke down a couple times on that quarterback, but he's good," Sacred Heart coach Peter Lavorato said of M-A's Royce Branning. "He broke the pocket on us but other than that our defense was solid and our defensive coordinator just did a great job."
The Gators' defense, led by senior linebacker Derek Hunter, allowed a mere 80 yards in the first half, including an interception by senior Nick Salzman in the second quarter. Salzman had bobbled the ball at first but was able to hang on for the turnover.
The interception would lead to the first Gators' touchdown. The offense was headed by a rock-solid offensive line led by senior left tackle Joey Ertola, who helped moved the ball down to Bears' territory. Junior running back Chris Lee ran in from the 2-yard-line, putting Sacred Heart up 7-0.
"Every week we come out and have the mentality that we're underdogs because of we're smaller," said Ertola. "We have better technique, and that gives our quarterback time, and as a unit we did really well today."
The Bears couldn't gain any ground on the tough Gator defense until the third quarter when M-A tried its wildcat offense. Senior running back Tasi Teu threw a shovel pass to Marcus Hill for a nine-yard touchdown tying the game 7-7 with 55.3 left in the third quarter.
Teu, who averages 91.6 rushing yards per game, was held to a total of only 11 yards on 10 carries.
In San Francisco, Priory moved to within a victory of winning its first-ever Mission Trail Athletic League title following a big 46-30 victory over host Stuart Hall on Treasure Island.
Junior running back James McDaniel carried 28 times for 175 yards and junior Will Latta added 105 yards on 13 carries as the Panthers improved to 4-0 in league (6-0 overall). Priory will host Anzar (San Benito) on Friday (3 p.m.) with a chance of winning the league title in eight-man football. Stuart Hall fell to 3-1 (4-2).
McDaniel scored touchdowns on runs of 11, six, 20, 58 and 16 yards and added a pair of conversions. He has 23 touchdowns and 16 conversions this season, in addition to more than 1,000 rushing yards.
The Panthers trailed by 18-16 at halftime, but came out strong in the third quarter with McDaniel scoring twice.
Priory also got a two-yard TD run from Malik Reid in the second quarter. The Panthers rushed for 312 yards and passed for 77 more while continuing the finest season in program history.
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