After a 60-point football loss to Menlo School last season, Mission-San Francisco certainly came in hungry for a rematch. The result wasn't quite as lopsided, but Menlo prevailed, 28-14, in a gritty win thanks to some fourth-quarter fireworks Saturday night at Sequoia High in Redwood City.
"We knew they were a good team, had a ton of incredible athletes," junior running back/linebacker Charlie Ferguson said. "I think we were prepared for really good players, and we had great scheme. It took a little bit of time to see what they were doing - it was hard to simulate their speed in practice. I think we adjusted, and the coaches did a great job with that."
The Knights (2-0) and the Bears were knotted at 14 at halftime and neither team scored in a third quarter peppered with turnovers. Midway through the fourth, Menlo senior running back Charlie Roth scored his second touchdown when he grabbed a 15-yard pass from senior Mackenzie Morehead deep in the right corner of the end zone to break the tie.
Morehead, in his second varsity start, completed 18 of 37 passes for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- he also found sophomore Aidan Israelski for a 10-yard TD to tie the score.
Senior RJ Babiera had seven receptions for a team-high 182 yards, including a 46-yard catch in the first quarter and a 35-yard catch and run to help set up Roth's fouth-quarter score.
Roth caught six passes for 88 yards and picked up another 82 yards in 14 carries.
On the Bears' ensuing possession, Roth sacked Frank Hall, then sophomore JH Tevis followed with another sack for a loss, forcing Mission to punt. Menlo took advantage, with Ferguson's 66-yard run on a draw play with 2:43 left in the game.
"It ended up being a huge whole to the right and our draws are designed to go wherever there's space, so I saw a huge space. The line did a great job blocking . . . I think John (Guiragossian) and Carson Gampell on the right side that opened it up. I just kept thinking, "Don't go out of bound . . . and just got on my horse and finished the play.
"We talk about finishing at Menlo, and that's what we tried to do there."
The last time the teams met -- a year ago on the same field -- Ferguson racked up 246 rushing and receiving yards. This time, he posted 100 rushing yards on six carries.
The Knights next play Soquel at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz on Saturday (Sept. 19) at 7:30 p.m.
In other games Saturday:
Menlo-Atherton (0-2) was routed by host Oakdale, 61-7; Pinewood dropped a close 44-34 contest to host Stuart Hall and Priory was thumped by Crystal Springs, 54-6, to open the Mission Trail Athletic League season.
Menlo-Atherton trailed by 40-7 at halftime in its second straight road contest. Junior Jordan Mims was the lone offensive bright spot as he rushed eight times for 107 yards and scored the lone touchdown. The Bears finished with 114 rushing yards and just 42 yards passing. Justin Friedsam paced the defense with nine tackles.
At Crystal Springs, Priory's youth showed through in the lopsided loss.
"We have a young team so there was quite a bit of learning to do in this first game," said Priory coach Doug Sargent. "Crystal Springs played well on Saturday. We will play them again later in the season at Priory and I hope we can give them a better game."
Crystal Springs scored three defensive touchdowns -- two on interceptions and the other on a snap recovered in the end zone.
Priory was led by sophomore Keyshawn Ashford, who rushed 20 times for 137 yards. Adrian Lavalle scored on a QB sneak on the last play of the game to provide Priory's points.