Sacred Heart junior quarterback Mason Randall found Nick O'Donnell in the back of the end zone with nine seconds left in the game and the Gators came out with a thrilling 27-21 nonleague victory over visiting Salinas Friday afternoon.
The Gators improved to 3-0 overall while the Cowboys dropped to 1-2. The win marked head Coach Pete Lavorato's 99th victory with SHP.
"I think the last time I was involved in a game like this was when we played in the NCS against (former Cal star) Jahvid Best and Salesian when we won 43-41 and it was just back and forth," said Lavorato. "But it wasn't quite like this one."
With nine seconds left in the fourth quarter with the crowd at its feet, Randall found a wide-open O'Donnell to give his team the come-from-behind victory.
"He (Randall) knew how open I was going to be," said O'Donnell. "Mason looked at me right before the play and then he just hit me perfectly."
In the second quarter, Cowboys senior quarterback Zach McDermott took it himself and ran in for an 18-yard touchdown to give his team the 6-0 lead. Junior Ryan Jensen nailed a 43-yard field goal to put Salinas up 9-0 going into halftime.
"We weren't going to change any schemes because they saw something they were doing to prevent us from scoring," said Randall. "He (Lavorato) told us at halftime to keep confident and keep running our stuff and we'll be all right."
The Gators took their first lead of the game when Randall connected with Andrew Daschbach on a short pass, turning it into a 46-yard touchdown to put Sacred Heart up 13-9 in the third quarter.
Daschbach finished with eight catches for 131 yards.
The Cowboys took the lead back in the fourth quarter when McDermott ran in for his second touchdown giving Salinas the 15-13 lead with 11:31 left in the game.
On the Cowboys' next possession, McDermott handed the ball off to senior running back Bruce Leighton, who jumped over for the one-yard touchdown run putting Salinas up 21-13.
The Gators answered back again when Randall kept the ball and ran in for a four-yard score, trimming the Salinas lead to 21-19.
The Sacred Heart defense held the Cowboys to a quick three-and-out with just over two minutes left in the game.
Randall led the Gators' final drive that started from the Sacred Heart one-yard line. The quarterback was clutch and went 9 for 9 on Sacred Heart's late possession. Randall hooked up with senior wide receiver Mitchell Martella four times for 46 yards in the drive. Randall finished 27 of 34 for a career-high and school-record 382 yards.
"The guy on Mitch was good but Mitch is better," said Lavorato. "We basically just told O'Donnell to run in and out with Mitch and it was one on one -- they're pretty much playing catch."
Defensively, Andrew Robinson had 15 total tackles for the Gators while Cole March had 14, JR Hardy had 12, Cameron Chapman 10 and John Van Sweden finished with nine tackles, a sack and one tackle for loss. Cameron Dulsky and Matt Odell combined for 16 total stops.
Sacred Heart once again played without two-way standout senior Ben Burr-Kirven, still sidelined by a leg injury from last spring. The senior, who gave a verbal commitment this week to attend The University of Washington next fall, is hoping to be back on the field on Oct. 4 when the Gators host Woodside in their first-ever night game in Atherton.
Alvarez 48, Menlo School 18
Despite collecting more than 400 total yards, the host Knights suffered their first loss of the young season on Friday at Sequoia High in Redwood City.
Jack Marren hauled in 10 catches for 251 yards, including two first-half touchdowns from fellow senior Austin D'Ambra to lead Menlo (2-1). Also undefeated entering the game, Alvarez took a 34-12 lead into the half.
D'Ambra completed 21 passes for 353 yards, and added another TD when he connected with junior Antonio Lopez for a one-yard score. Charlie Roth gained 52 yards rushing in 11 carries. Marren also had 11 tackles while Lopez and Roth combined for 18 tackles and four sacks.