Palo Alto defense comes up big in 23-6 victory over San Benito

Gunn's Jackson runs for 202 yards in 21-0 victory

When all was said and done following Palo Alto's 23-6 nonleague football victory over host San Benito on Friday night, the Vikings' defense had the final word.

"They couldn't move the ball," said Paly coach Earl Hansen. "We played good defense. It's going to be really difficult to run on us."

Palo Alto held the Haybalers to 70 yards rushing and just 94 total yards while improving to 3-0 this season. The Vikings have allowed only 222 rushing yards, an average of 74 yards per game.

"They (San Benito) had no speed," Hansen said.

The Vikings allowed just two field goals and now have given up only 22 points this season, heading into next week's SCVAL De Anza Division opener against visiting Wilcox, which was beaten by San Benito just a week earlier, 34-7.

That bodes well for Palo Alto, which didn't have its best game against the Haybalers but still found a way to win.

After scoring on its first possession, culminating with a 32-yard scoring strike from Christoph Bono to Davante Adams, the Vikings' offense came to a screeching halt. It didn't help that San Benito controlled the ball in the second quarter, either.

Palo Alto took a 7-6 lead into halftime, despite being held to a minus-nine yards rushing. The second half was a different story once Paly got its hands on the ball following a blocked punt by Kevin Anderson. That set up a 14-yard TD pass to T.J. Braff, who also caught a six-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter.

Bono finished 21-of-28 for 198 yard and three scores with no interceptions. Adams, taking advantage of fellow wideout Maurice Williams being double-covered, caught 10 passes for 108 yards in mostly single coverage.

"Bono played very well," Hansen said, "despite getting hit a few times."

Hansen singled out defenders like safety Gabe Landa and tackle Nathan Hubbard, who provided the final points with a combined tackle for a safety in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Michael Cullen also stood out along with tackles Chris Martinez and Spencer Drazovich plus Anderson at defensive end.

Anderson is proving to be quite a handful for offensive linemen. He's a big reason why opposing teams are averaging only a 175.3 yards per game.

Gunn 21, Hillsdale 0

Just one week after appearing completely lost in a loss to Burlingame, the Gunn football team made a complete turnaround with a nonleague thumping of visiting Hillsdale on Friday night.

Gunn senior Josh Jackson, despite feeling ill at game time, nonetheless had the finest statistical game of his career by rushing for 202 yards on 16 carries and scoring two touchdowns as the Titans improved to 2-1 while Hillsdale fell to 3-1 after scoring 93 points in its past two games.

"That was a better performance," Gunn coach Bob Sykes told "We were solid on both sides of the ball,"

Solid was the right word as the list of outstanding performances was long, starting with the offensive tandem of quarterback Anthony Cannon and Jackson plus the line play of Keenan Venuti and Jim Hinton.

"Cannon made great reads all night," said Sykes. "Jackson did a great job bouncing back after a tough start."

Cannon got the Titans going on their opening drive when, on fourth-and- three from Hillsdale's 30, he did a beautiful play-action pass to Russell Savage, who caught it at the five and went into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

The Titans looked like they were going to add to the score late in the first half, but Jackson had his second fumble of the half that he lost at Hillsdale's 15.

Jackson, though, came out in the second half with two long runs, the first being a 57-yard touchdown run to give Gunn a 14-0 lead on its first possession of the second half. Later in the quarter Jackson went 41 yards to set up a Dekel Sherman field-goal attempt of 29 yards that just missed.

Helping Jackson on the runs was the blocking of Hinton, Venuti, Alex Sutherland Matt Hurst and Peter Legenhausen. Hinton was also outstanding on defense as he snuffed out Hillsdale's last chance to get back into the game when, on fourth-and-15 situation he sacked the Knights' Yannis Tsagarakis for a 15-yard loss. From there Gunn marched methodically down the field with big plays by J.J. Strnad, Matt Mertz and Jackson, with Jackson going in from four yards out.

The Gunn defense, which held Hillsdale to 42 yards rushing and 185 total yards, got an interception from Abel Abraha and good performances from Miles Sturken, Elias Baker and Skylar Larson.

Next up for Gunn will be a Homecome game against Cupertino next Friday at 7 p.m.

-- Keith Peters/Tom Jacoubowsky

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