The Danny Sullivan era at Palo Alto is off to a good start. The Vikings' new football coach rode a strong defense and yeoman work from junior back Paul Jackson III to a 25-12 nonleague triumph over visiting Patterson on Friday evening.
Paly held the valley-based Tigers to 80 total yards in the first half, taking a 25-0 lead into the locker room.
“That's one,” said Sullivan, a star quarterback at Los Gatos High before toiling behind center at Arizona State. “We have many more to go. That's a real good team. Their offense was tough. We have a lot of work to do.”
Jackson had 170 yards on a career-high 28 carries. At halftime, Jackson had 22 rush attempts for 97 yards. Jackson, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago, sat out much of the third quarter with leg cramps or his numbers would have been greater.
“It was a great win to start the season, especially overcoming all the obstacles we faced in past years,” Jackson said. “And this year, because we have a new coach. We adjusted well.”
“We're asking Jackson to do a lot,” Sullivan said. “We're playing to our skill-set.”
The Tigers (0-1) were quick on both sides of the ball, which meant it wasn't going to be easy for the Vikings (1-0).
Paly, though, took the opening kickoff and marched nine plays for the first touchdown of the season, a 5-yard run by Jackson in which he bowled over a defender at the goal line.
Jackson had the big play of the drive, taking a short screen from Jordan Schilling, turning it into a 32-yard gain to the Patterson 17.
The first of two fumble recoveries by Alec Cohen-Schisler set up the Vikes' next tally. Taking over at the Tigers' 18-yard line, Sione Latu went for 6 yards, followed by three straight runs by Jackson, who got over from a yard out with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
Bryan Rodriguez came up with an interception late in the first quarter, but it couldn't be turned into points for Paly.
Sophomore Jackson Chryst got a taste of his first varsity game early in the second quarter. Chryst threw a beautiful ball to Jackson Hall, who beat a defender before racing 75 yards for the TD. Call it “Jackson to Jackson.”
The Vikings got tricky on the extra point, having Schilling , the holder, shovel a pass to Nick Smallwood, who got over the line for the 2-point conversion.
Luca Zaharias booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired to end the first half. Little did the good amount of Paly fans in attendance realize those would be the final points of the night for the Vikings.
Schilling had an interception early in the third quarter to put the ball at the Paly 46-yard line. On second down, Jackson ran up the middle on a trap play, netting 32 yards. The drive stalled on a missed field goal by Zaharias from 31 yards away.
The Tigers had a good performance by backup quarterback Gabe Sanchez, who threw for a pair of touchdowns in the second half. Both extra point tries were missed.
Linebacker Christian Rider, corner Josh Brigel and corner Damion Richard-Valencia had outstanding games for the Vikings.
“Our defense was amazing,” Sullivan said. “That offense was so special, we did things on defense we won't do again the rest of the year. In our scrimmage, we went against two spread teams. I was worried coming into this game.”
“It was tough because they packed the box,” Jackson said. “Our linemen had to block someone different every time.”
Up next is a long road trip to Hollister to play San Benito.
“I'm looking forward to the next game,” Jackson said.