Menlo School quarterback Mackenzie Morehead and running back Charlie Ferguson combined for 326 total yards to lead the Knights to a 35-20 victory over visiting Woodside to open the PAL Ocean Division football season on homecoming Friday.
The Knights remained perfect, improving to 5-0, while Woodside suffered its first loss of the season and dropped to 4-1. It was the first game of the year on the newly renovated grass field for the Knights.
"The field held up nicely," said Menlo head coach Mark Newton. "Mostly focused on how hard the guys fought. Not suiting up a lot of our guys, we have three of our best players that are injured. We still figured out a way to get it done, it was an impressive effort."
With a chance to take the lead just while starting the fourth quarter on the 3-yard-line, Woodside quarterback Scudder Stockwell tried running in for the score. However, Menlo senior Charlie Roth came up and forced a fumble and Menlo took possession while preventing the Wildcats from taking a two-touchdown lead.
"He got me on a first move, got away from me," explained Roth. "I just tried to track the play down from behind, put it back and I just made sure to hang on to it."
In the first quarter, Ferguson ran the ball in for a two-yard touchdown and the Knights took the early 7-0 lead. Ferguson finished with 128 yards and two touchdowns. The junior now has 604 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
In the second quarter, Ferguson was sidelined due to a leg injury and sat out for most of the quarter.
The Wildcats charged back and tied the game on a two-yard run by running back Sione Halaapiapi and the score was 14-14 with 46 seconds left in the quarter.
Woodside started its third-quarter possession with a 70-yard touchdown run from junior running back Marcelous Chester-Riley and the Wildcats had a 20-14 advantage. Chester-Riley totaled 102 yards on the ground.
After Roth's forced fumble, the Knights rushed down the field and Morehead found junior wide receiver Evan King for a 14-yard touchdown and Menlo took the 21-20 lead. Morehead finished with 198 passing yard on 16 completions in 25 attempts.
The Wildcats scored in the third quarter, but were silenced for the rest of the game as they committed four turnovers in five possessions. The Menlo defense sacked the quarterback seven times and the backfield had three interceptions, including one for a TD.
"We just told them that they need to get after it, and we said we're going to need a herculean effort to get this thing done," said Newton. "We have guys out of position; we're going to be aggressive on defense. Coach Smith and the defensive staff did an amazing job, the kids that were number two's and three's were ready to go -- we got even more aggressive at halftime."
Ferguson came back from his injury in the fourth quarter and ran 60 yards for a touchdown and the Knights increased their lead to 28-20.
With just under six minutes left in the fourth quarter, sophomore Robert Lopez picked off Stockwell and ran back for a 37-yard touchdown and Menlo took the comfortable 35-20 lead.
The Knights will travel to Half Moon Bay to take on the Cougars (4-0) on Friday at 7 p.m.
"We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing," said Roth. "Everybody on the team is dedicated to getting the win. We're going to put in the time on and off the field, watch film at home so we know our stuff when we get to practice so practice will be efficient."
Milpitas 40, Palo Alto 13
Following the sage advice of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", former Palo Alto quarterback Oliver Svirsky completed six passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns to pace host Milpitas to a romp over the Vikings in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Friday night.
Svirsky was Paly's quarterback in last season's 47-7 loss to Milpitas. Paly fell to 1-1 in league (2-4 overall) while being intercepted twice and failing to score until the final quarter.
Paly did manage to gain 186 rushing yards, spread among seven players, but completed just 12 of 27 passes for 115 yards. Junior Jordan Schilling came off the bench to compete 4 of 5 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings' other TD came on a run by Shaun Pike.
Menlo-Atherton 27, Sequoia 24
Stavro Papadakis scored on a five-run with time running out in the fourth quarter to lift Menlo-Atherton to a victory over host Sequoia in PAL Bay Division action at Terremere Field in Redwood City. The Bears 1-0, 2-3) won their second straight after rallying from a 17-point deficit in the second half.
Jordan Mims, who rushed for 143 yards, scored on a one-yard run in the third period to bring the Bears to within 24-14. Marcus Gershernberg caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from transfer Miles Conrad (who was making his debut at quarterback) and M-A was back in the game albeit trailing by 24-21. That set up the winning TD run by Papadakis a few minute later.
Priory 26, Anzar 24
Getting the winning touchdown with just 14 seconds left in the game, the Panthers won their first Mission Trail Athletic League eighth-man game of the season by rallying past host Anzar in Hollister.
The Panthers (1-2, 1-4) got a one-yard pass from quarterback Adrian LaValle to Erik Larson for the winning points. Keyshawn Ashford ran for 220 yards on 20 carries and had three touchdowns. LaValle was 5-for-15 for 83 yards and the winning TD while the defense was led by Michael Zhao and Joseph Calderon with 14 tackles each.
Pinewood 46, Crystal Springs 34
Pinewood kept its title hopes alive in the MTAL eight-man race by rallying for a victory over visiting Crystal Springs on Thursday.
The Panthers (4-1) bounced back from an early 60-yard fumble recovery touchdown by Crystal Springs star Karl Clayter to post the victory. Pinewood's Kyle Murphy returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for touchdown and, after a two-point conversion, the Panthers led the rest of the way.
Murphy had four touchdowns, including three in the first half -- the kickoff return, a 62-yard screen pass and 5- yard TD run as time expired in the half as Pinewood took a 30-20 lead. The teams traded scores the rest of the way, but Pinewood pulled away on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Alex Banning and another screen pass TD pass from QB Jaeden Bailey to Murphy that covered 45 yards. Bailey also had a 10-yard TD pass and two 2-point conversion passes to Sean Murphy to round out the scoring.
Pinewood will take its 4-1 record against league rival Trinity Christian next Friday at Pinewood at 3:30 p.m.