After losing to Carmel twice last season in convincing fashion, the outlook to end that losing streak didn't look all that good for the Menlo School football team on Saturday night. The Knights, however, bounced back from a disappointing season-opening loss a week earlier to upend the Padres, 34-29 in nonleague action Saturday night at Woodside High.
The last time Menlo met Carmel was nine months ago in the Central Coast Section Division IV championship game. The Knights were soundly beaten. But, with a new year came a decidedly new result.
Jordan Williams put the finishing touch on an exceptional game for both he and the Knights (1-1) by scoring the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left to snap Carmel's 13-game winning streak that started last season.
"It's a tribute to the kids and how hard they practiced," said Menlo coach Mark Newton. "After a difficult loss (13-9 to Hillsdale), to come back and beat the defending CCS champs . . . I'm proud of the kids."
A 22-yard field goal with 3:46 left to play gave the Padres (1-1) a 29-28 lead. Menlo then began what would be the winning 13-play drive as quarterback Robert Wickers flipped the ball to Beau Nichols, who turned it into a 42-yard pass play. Seven plays later, Wickers scooped a shovel pass to Nichols for a nine-yard gain to put the Knights on the Padres' 11 with 21 seconds left. Moments laster, Williams scampered up the middle for the winning score.
Williams also made a spectacular one-handed, 13-yard catch in traffic to set up his first touchdown -- an eight-yard reception from Wickers with 30 seconds before halftime. Williams also had two interceptions in the third quarter – one of which ended a 76-yard Carmel drive that put the Padres on the Menlo 3.
"Jordan had a fantastic game," Newton said. "We needed seniors to step up and make great plays at different points in the game, and that's what he did."
Sacred Heart Prep 56, Riordan 26
Earlier in the day in Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep got a sensational performance from running backs Colin Terndrup, Tyler McCool and Pedro Robinson as the trio combined for 442 yards of total offense and five touchdowns to lead the Gators to a rousing thumping of the visiting Crusaders of the West Catholic Athletic League.
Terndrup led the Gators (2-0) with 183 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 14 carries, including a 76-yard run in the third quarter that more than doubled his total for the first half. Robinson finished with 104 yards and a score on just seven rushes while McCool finished with 96 yards on eight carries, including a 67-yard TD run on the Gators' second play from scrimmage.
McCool also caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback John Geary in the second quarter. Geary added another scoring pass, a 17-yarder to senior tight end Bryan Munks, just before halftime. Geary finished 5-of-9 for 116 yards.
SHP sophomore running back/defensive back Ryan Gaertner rushed for his team's final touchdown on offense and had an interception on defense. Sacred Heart got its other TD on special teams in the second quarter when linebacker Hunter Shaw blocked a punt and junior Fatu Tupou recovered the ball in the end zone.
Hank Robson was in on eight tackles for SHP with teammate Matt Hardy adding a combined six tackles.
Los Gatos 35, Menlo-Atherton 3
Senior Michael Culhane wasn't supposed to be Menlo-Atherton's starting quarterback on Saturday. That honor had belonged to junior Willy Fonua, until he sustained a concussion in last week's opening loss to Wilcox.
Culhane, who moved to wide receiver about a week before the curtain was raised on the season, was Fonua's favorite receiver.
Because of Fonua's injury, Culhane was moved back to quarterback. The move didn't work as the Bears dropped a 35-3 decision to visiting Los Gatos in a nonleague football game.
"I saw a lot of positives last week but this week we couldn't get things together," said Culhane, who completed a pair of passes for 36 yards and caught two passes for 37 yards. "We kind of came back and struggled. We need to change the way we practice."
The Bears (0-2) travel to Jefferson in Daly City for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday night. There will likely be another quarterback competition this week as senior Jonathan Hoech took over for most of the second half and found some success in throwing to Culhane.
"Whatever is needed is fine by me," Culhane said. "It was frustrating more than anything. But if they need me, I'll do it."
Culhane led the Bears on their lone scoring drive, which resulted in Sam Falkenhagen's 35-yard field goal with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Even on that drive Culhane needed to overcome a pair of motion penalties, a holding call against the Bears and a five-yard sack that set up a third-and-41 situation. A well-executed hook and ladder pass play that involved Stas Della Morte and Cameron Moody resulted in getting 32 of those yards back to give Falkenhagen the chance to get M-A on the scoreboard.
Los Gatos found the going difficult against a tough Bears' defense that included solid play from senior defensive lineman Semisi Mataele.
The Wildcats were in great shape to take the lead when they took over at M-A's 23-yard line, but could only manage 10 yards and a missed field goal try.
The Bears had Los Gatos pinned on its own 12-yard line as the second quarter was drawing to a close. The Wildcats had managed 70 total yards to that point and the M-A defense was playing lights out.
What happened next turned into a Bears' nightmare as Los Gatos needed just fve plays to go those 88 yards, with Tyler Olivet getting behind the secondary and finishing off a 45-yard touchdown pass.
The Bears, despite pinning themselves on their own 15-yard line because of a holding call on a nice kickoff return, weren't content with running out the clock. Instead they tried a trick play, pitching the ball to running back Junior Sakalia, who looked to throw deep. He was hit as he threw and senior defensive tackle Taig McNulty found himself with the ball in his hands and 11 yards from the end zone.
With the Wildcats scoring 14 points in a 19-second span, the Bears seemed to let their guard down while Los Gatos seemed to have its battery charged.
Menlo-Atherton was held to 70 total yards in the second half. Moody led the Bears with 45 rushing yards on 16 carries.
"I was happy with our first half when we played pretty well," Bears' senior offensive guard Ausia Mataele said. "But I was disappointed in the mistakes we made."
Priory 54 Alma Heights 28
The Priory opened its eight-man season with a 54-28 victory over host Alma Heights on Saturday in Portola Valley. James McDaniel paced the Panthers by rushing 18 times for 185 yards. He scored four touchdowns, three running and one receiving while accounting for 296 all-purpose yards.
Priory ran for 305 yards with Alex Brugger gaining 36 on five carries while scoring two touchdowns. David Beleson added 50 yards rushing on 12 carries with one TD while throwing for 79 yards and two scores. Malik Reid added 36 rushing yards and 93 return yards on two kickoffs and one punt return.
On defense, the Panthers got six tackles and a fumble recovery from Andy Dolezalek while Kellan Draeger had five tackles and a sack with Marcus Talbott registering six tackles and a sack.
Priory next will visit Pinewood on Thursday at 4 p.m.