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Fonua escapes trouble as the Bears pounce on Sacred Heart to stay unbeaten in PAL play

 

JR Fonua was so proud of his older brother that he joined him in the traditional salute to the fans after a significant football victory and helped carry his brother's helmet.

Willy Fonua is Menlo-Atherton's 6-foot-2, 220-pound quarterback. JR, who also listened in on the postgame talk, comes up to Willy's waist.

Together they form one heck of a dynamic duo. There's no question they inspire each other.

Willy Fonua had to be inspired to avoid a sack that would have had disastrous results for the Bears.

Instead he picked up a crucial first down that allowed M-A the ability to dictate the remaining time on the clock in a 27-14 victory Friday night over visiting Sacred Heart Prep in a PAL Bay Division contest that had title implications.

Cameron Moody rushed for three touchdowns, including a pair of 31-yard runs, and finished with 107 yards as the Bears (6-2, 4-0) remained unbeaten in league play heading into next Friday night's showdown at Terra Nova.

"We'll just lay it all out on the line," Fonua said. "This is the first chance we've had to win the PAL title in a few years. We're excited for the opportunity."

Daver Refioglu rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown for the Gators (6-2, 2-2), who could have pulled into a second-place tie in the Bay Division with a win and still have a chance at a share of the title.

The Gators, with junior quarterback Kevin Donahue effectively running the show in place of the injured Jack Larson, used most of the fourth quarter to drive 73 yards in 16 plays to MA's 7-yard line, but an errant fourth down pass ended the threat.

A touchdown would have given Sacred Heart the lead. Instead, it pinned M-A deep in its own territory.

On a third and long play from his own eight, Fonua went back to pass and found nothing open.

"I looked right and I looked left and I didn't like what I saw," Fonua said. "I tried to scramble and was fortunate enough to break a few tackles."

It's also fortunate that he was blessed with balance and size. He twice made seemingly magical escapes.

"At one point I felt like I was going down," Fonua said. "I put a hand to the ground to lift myself back up and just continued running. It surprised me a lot. I didn't know I could run like that."

The first down set up Moody's final touchdown run of 31 yards with less than a minute to play.

The Bears won their fifth straight since opening the season 1-2. Sacred Heart Prep had a two-game winning streak end and had won 10 of its previous 11 games.

Larson was injured in the first half. They were also without their second-leading rusher in Will Morgan and two of its top defenders in Mike Covell, the team's leading tackler, and Luke Thomas, who has a team-high six sacks.

Tyler McCool added 66 yards while Larson threw for 127 yards before leaving after taking a big hit.

The Bears lost Richard Cornew to a first-half injury but not before he made a huge play on each side of the ball. He caught a 16-yard pass on third down and tackled McCool for a loss on a play. Sophomore nose guard Mark Opeta (6-3, 350) was also injured.

MA took a 20-14 lead late in the third quarter as Moody raced 31 yards for the score.

Sam Falkenhagen added his second field goal, a 29-yarder, of the night a few minutes earlier, set up by a James O'Donnell's blocked punt.

Dustin Nascimento's interception led to the Bears' first score, a 28-yard field goal by Falkenhagen.

The Gators answered almost immediately, using a 71-yard pass completion from Jack Larson to Pat Bruni to set up Larson's 2-yard sneak and a 7-3 edge.

The teams traded 2-yard TD runs in the second quarter. Moody scored for MA, Refioglu for the Gators.

M-A's Taylor Mashack was held to 68 rushing yards on 15 carries. He brought a 101.7 yards per game average into the contest.

Fonua rushed for 44 yards on his scramble.

"I love this team," Fonua said. "Outside of my house, this is my family. I would die for them."

Thankfully, all he needed to do was get a first down.

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