Junior quarterback Mason Randall threw for 235 yards and accounted for two touchdowns to lead Sacred Heart Prep to a 31-21 football victory over visiting Menlo-Atherton on an overcast Friday afternoon, keeping the Gators atop the PAL Bay Division standings.
The Gators improved to 3-0 (8-0 overall) on homecoming while the Bears slipped to 1-3 (2-6 overall). Next up for SHP will be a showdown at unbeaten Burlingame (4-0, 8-0) on Nov. 7 that should decide the division title.
"We've got a lot of great weapons out there on offense," said Randall, whose team held a slim 13-7 halftime lead. "He (head coach Pete Lavorato) said to us at halftime, 'They really didn't do anything that prevented us from scoring, it was mostly our mental mistakes, but as long as we could come out and execute we'd do a good job.'"
In the third quarter, the Gators executed -- Randall connected with junior tight end Andrew Daschbach for a 19-yard touchdown, stretching the Gators' lead to 25-13 late in the quarter to put the game out of reach.
"He's sort of a combination of both Riley Tinsley and Nick O'donnell," said Randall of Daschbach. "He's really big with great hands and he can beat the defense with his speed."
Tinsley led off the Gators opening 13-play drive with a two-yard touchdown giving Sacred Heart the early 6-0 advantage. Tinsley finished with 91 total offensive yards.
Sacred Heart senior Ben Burr-Kirven plowed his way through for a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Gators a 13-0 edge. The senior finished with 67 yards on the ground, 44 receiving, and added two touchdowns.
The Bears got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when junior quarterback Robby Beardsley ran it in from a yard out, trimming the lead to 13-7. Beardsley accounted for all three of Menlo-Atherton's touchdowns, but suffered an interception at the SHP one-yard line by Mitch Martella.
Sacred Heart's stingy defense held the Bears' quarterback to only 35 passing yards and just 82 total yards in the first half. The Bears' offense committed seven penalties in the first two quarters.
The Gators started to break away from the Bears in the fourth quarter when Burr-Kirven muscled his way in for a two-yard touchdown and gave Sacred Heart a commanding 31-13 lead.
The Sacred Heart offense was very balanced all game long as it ran for 178 yards and threw for a total of 235. The Gators used six different running backs and four different receivers. Sacred Heart now outscored its opponents this year 264-132.
Beardsley found junior wide receiver Chase DelRosso on the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown and cut the lead to 31-21. The Bears tried for an onside kick, but it failed and the Gators took possession and the game.
Trinity Christian 52, Priory 12
After winning 20 straight games over three years, Priory has lost two straight, the latest coming on Friday to Trinity Christian of Monterey in a Mission Trail Athletic League eight-man football game in Portola Valley.
The defending MTAL champion Panthers dropped to 4-2 while Trinity Christian grabbed control of the top spot at 6-0. Priory got its points on a 70-yard TD reception by Scott Harris in the second quarter and Garrett Weber's fumble recovery in the end zone in the third period.
Pinewood 78, North Valley Baptist 38
The Panthers set a school record for single-game points as Aidan Lucero rushed for 312 yards on just 17 carries and scored five touchdowns in the lopsided Mission Trail Athletic League eight-man game at Los Altos Hills. The Panthers improved to 4-2 and moved into a third for third place with Priory.
In addition to Lucero, who scored 32 points, quarterback Andrew Capin passed for 102 yards while completing 9 of 15 with three going for scores. Wilson Fields had 74 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Jack Sweat had 23 yards receiving with a touchdown. Pinewood had three interceptions and seven fumble recoveries to spark the defense.
Gunn 28, Lynbook 19
In a battle between winless teams, the Titans made the most of their homecoming game to end a seven-game losing streak and move to 1-3 in the SCVAL El Camino Division (1-7 overall).
Gunn quarterback Noah Riley threw three touchdown passes to Guy Kasnik to lead the victory. Riley was just 4-of-8 for 134 yards, with Kasnik accounting for every one of them. Kasnik caught scoring passes of 18, 37 and 62 yards.
Nozo Imanaka balanced Gunn's offense with 111 rushing yards on 24 hauls. His 27-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter put the finishing touches on the victory.
The Titans had only 17 available players, but 15 played.
Palo Alto 55, Santa Clara 26
The host Vikings made the most of their homecoming, getting 199 rushing yards from Jayshawn Puckett to defeat the Bruins in a showdown between two 2-5 teams.
Palo Alto kept its slim playoff hopes alive by improving to 2-2 in the SCVAL De Anza Division (3-5 overall). The Vikings have two regular-season games left, including one against visiting Milpitas (4-0, 8-0) next Friday. The Trojans beat Los Gatos, 27-21, on Friday.
Eli Givens got Paly off to a good start with an 86-yard kickoff return for a score. He added 67- and 44-yard scoring receptions from QB Justin Hull -- all in the first quarter as the Vikings grabbed a 28-0 lead. Paly led by 34-0 before the Bruins finally got on the board in the second quarter.
Puckett scored on runs of 21 and three yards with Jon Martinez adding a pair of eight-yard scoring runs in the wild offensive battle. Hull threw for 169 yards.
Terra Nova 56, Menlo School 35
The Knights (1-2, 4-4) scored enough points to win normal games, but couldn't contain Tigers quarterback Anthony Gordon in this wild offensive PAL Bay Division battle in Pacifica that saw Menlo's Charlie Roth posting 195 all-purpose yards and Jack Marren scoring four touchdowns.
The Knights took a 14-7 first-quarter lead when Austin D'ambra connected with Marren for touchdown passes of 23 and 13 yards in a two-minute span late in the first. Marren scored another on a one-yard run with 10 seconds left in the half, but the Tigers (3-5, 2-2) scored three times to open the second quarter and led 28-21 at the half before pulling away.
"Charlie Roth did a great job on both sides of the ball, as did Chris Crouch, John Guiragossian, Gregor Yock," Menlo coach Mark Newton said. "They just made a number of big plays in key situations, especially in third-and-long that hurt us, and we had a couple offensive opportunities stall and and out the defense in a couple bad spots field-position wise . . . They had a number of great plays; Anthony Gordon had a great game."
Gordon threw six touchdown passes.
Roth had yet another game with more than 100 yards rushing -- he ran for 127 against the Tigers and Marren finished with five catches for 120 yards. The Knights had two penalties while the Tigers had 14 for 140 yards. Menlo also led in first downs 20-16.
-- Pam McKenney, Menlo School Athletics