Uploaded: Friday, November 2, 2012, 10:33 PM
Priory finishes off a season of perfection
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|By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Priory coach Doug Sargent didn't worry about getting a tub of water dumped on him Friday. He got that celebration a week earlier when the Panthers clinched their first-ever Mission Trail Athletic League title in eight-man football.
Thus, Sargent was able to enjoy the ending of Friday's 44-26 victory over visiting Anzar without looking over his shoulder for an impending bath.
With sophomore quarterback Anthony McMath throwing for 129 yards and two touchdowns, Priory finished its season undefeated for the first time in its four-year history. The Panthers improved to 5-0 (7-0 overall) while the Hawks ended their season at 2-3 (2-5 overall).
The Panthers outscored their opponents this season by a combined total of 356-164 and averaged 50 points per game.
"It's relieving; I'm glad it's over," said Sargent. "Halftime was a gut check for us. We really looked at our kids and asked them: 'Do you really want it?' and they came out in the second half and proved they wanted it."
Junior quarterback Will Latta put the first points on the board with a eight-yard run up the middle to give the Panthers an 8-0 lead. Latta finished with 82 rushing yards and 92 receiving yards.
Latta came through again in the second quarter when he caught a 62-yard touchdown pass and ran for a 30-yard touchdown with 3:30 left in the first half, putting the Panthers up 20-14. The touchdown was one of his four in the game -- two rushing and two receiving. Latta played just about every skill position on offense during the game.
The Hawks would strike back when senior quarterback Jeremy Cedeno found sophomore tight end Victor Flores for the 17-yard touchdown tying the game at 20-20 to end the first half. Cedeno finished with 110 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Priory junior running back James McDaniel ran in for an eight-yard touchdown, giving the Panthers some breathing room at 36-20 late in the third quarter. McDaniel led the league this season in rushing with 1,160 yards and 24 touchdowns.
On fourth down and less than two minutes left in the game, Latta came through in the clutch and converted a nine-yard run to give Priory a first down. The important first down set up a three-yard touchdown run by senior Matthew Schwab -- his first score of the season -- to seal the win at 44-26.
"I'm feeling real good; amazing is more like it," said McMath. "It's crazy that we're the first team to go undefeated in history. We were all pumped up in the second half and we dominated; it's a good feeling."
McMath had only three complete passes in the game, but he made them count. All of them went for 30 or more yards, and two went for touchdowns.
The Priory offense stepped up in the second half with 190 total yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers' defense also played well in the second half, giving up just one touchdown while stopping the visitors in key situations. Latta recovered a fumble to end an Anzar drive inside the Priory 20 late in the game and his teammate came up big, as well.
That made for a nice celebration at the game's conclusion, with Priory students rushing the field to help make the perfect season one to remember.
Palo Alto 56, Mountain View 28
When the Vikings walked off the field with their rousing victory over the host Spartans on Friday afternoon, little did they know they would be alone in first place that night.
Paly's triumph, coupled with Saratoga's 44-37 upset over Milpitas, moved the Vikings from co-leader to sole leader at 5-1 (7-2). Milpitas fell to 4-2 (6-3) and into a tie for second with Los Gatos (4-2, 5-4), a 14-0 winner over Santa Clara.
Speaking of Santa Clara (2-4, 5-4), Palo Alto needs only to beat the Bruins next Friday to claim the SCVAL De Anza Division title and, with it, a berth into the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs.
That scenario looked all but impossible for Paly just a week ago when Milpitas beat Los Gatos and took control of the division, thanks to a tiebreaker with its win over the Vikings.
Now, Palo Alto is back in the driver's seat thanks to its big win over Mountain View.
Justin Gates-Mouton got things rolling with a 90-yard TD run and then one from 25 yards out. Matt Tolbert had TD runs of three and 75 yards and Malcolm Davis returned an interception 42 yards for one score and a kickoff 97 yards for another TD. Keesean Johnson caught a 41-yard TD pass from Keller Chryst and Jayshawn Gates-Mouton returned a kickoff 88 yards for yet another tally. Paly held a 28-0 first-quarter lead and was up 35-8 at halftime.
Saratoga (3-3, 6-3) scored three touchdowns in the final minutes to pull off the big victory over Milpitas after trailing the entire game.
Menlo School 56, Jefferson 14
The Knights came up a number of big plays to dominate the visitors on Friday in PAL Ocean Division action. Menlo (4-1, 8-1) used just 17 plays to drum up a 49-7 halftime lead.
Menlo's Peter Bouret got things started with an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 11:46 left in the first. It was the first of two kickoff returns for a score -- the other for 99 yards in the second period. Connor Stastny followed in the first with a 22-yard pass from junior Jack Heneghan. Heneghan completed 8 of 12 passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns for the Knights.
Senior backup quarterback Matt Bradley again had another interception return for a score -- a 20-yard score in the second period. Heru Peacock added a 41-yard TD run in the third quarter as the Knights wrapped up division play.
Gunn 28, Monta Vista 27
Sean Lydster led the Titans to a huge victory over host Monta Vista in a showdown for first place in the SCVAL El Camino Division on Friday night in Cupertino.
Lydster rushed for 239 yards on 32 carries and had touchdown runs of 13, 27, six and 14. His final score came with 9:28 left and broke a 21-21 tie. Gunn later stopped a two-point conversion with 1:19 left to play while improving to 5-0 in league (7-2 overall).
After each score Ben Sampson kicked the extra point in what proved to be the decisive difference.
"That was a great game with some outstanding efforts," said Gunn coach Dan Navarro. "The game puts us in first, but we'll have to win next week to guarantee we make the playoffs."
The triumph sets up the scenario for Gunn that a win over 4-1 Fremont next week, Gunn will be league champ and will earn a CCS berth. However, if they lose to Fremont, the Titans may find themselves in a three way tie for first with Fremont and Monta Vista and will lose the tiebreaker to Monta Vista based on strength of schedule.
After Monta Vista had scored to make it a one-point game, the Matadors opted to go for two and the win. On a pitchout run by Peter Stern Gunn's Kevin Sharp tripped him up and then Aryeh Furman and Dietrich Sweat stopped him short of the goal.
Monta Vista tried an onside kick, but the Titans' Charles Fisiiashi recovered the kick at midfield. Gunn couldn't run out the clock and, when Guzman went out of bounds after a seven-yard run and Lydster was stopped short on fourth and one, Monta Vista had the ball back at its own 43 with 44 seconds left.
However, after a Furman sack, one completion and an incomplete pass, Monta Vista found itself just at midfield and on the final play of the game QB Nathan Faciolla harmlessly ran around the right side only to be tackled by Dontae Sweat as the game ended and the Titans celebrated.
Sacred Heart Prep 40, Half Moon Bay 8
Chris Lee scored on runs of eight, 13 and two yards to pace the Gators to an easy win over last-place Half Moon Bay in PAL Bay Divisiion action on Friday. Ryan Gaertner added a seven-yard TD run and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Donahoe to help SHP forge a 33-0 lead after three quarters.
The Gators improved to 4-1 in the division and 8-1 overall with only a nonleague game against Menlo remaining. SHP most likely will finish tied for first with Terra Nova, which will gain the league's CCS Open Division berth by virtue of its win over the Gators earlier this season.
In other games Friday:
Menlo-Atherton (3-2, 5-4) saw its title hopes disappear in the PAL Bay Division following a 38-14 loss to visiting Terra Nova (3-1, 5-4).
— Pam McKenney on Menlo School/Tom Jacoubowsky on Gunn
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