Junior running backs Paul Jackson III and Sione Latu combined for 412 rushing yards and Palo Alto earned a 44-31 victory over visiting Santa Clara Friday night in the SCVAL De Anza Division football opener.
The Vikings are now 1-0 (2-3 overall) while Santa Clara fell to 0-1 (2-3 overall). Wilcox and Milpitas also won Friday night.
Gunn (0-1, 2-3) fell to Fremont, 49-21, in a SCVAL El Camino Division opener.
“I think we had 26 guys suited up and eight guys out,” said Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan. “We should be getting some guys back next week, which is nice. The best part is, I think we used every single person on the team tonight. A bunch of guys stepped up in a big role.”
In the third quarter, sophomore quarterback Jackson Chryst connected with senior Nick Smallwood for a clutch 25-yard touchdown and the Vikings went up, 30-24, late in the third quarter.
Santa Clara sophomore kicker, Nick Garcia nailed a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter and the Bruins went up 3-0 going into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Jackson III juked past the Bruin defense and ran in for a 21-yard touchdown. The Vikings couldn’t convert on the kick and Paly went up 6-3.
On a fourth down with three seconds left in the half, the Vikings handed it off to Jackson III and the junior ran in for the touchdown.
Palo Alto went for the risky two-point conversion and succeeded on a run by Jackson III and the Vikings went up 14-10 going into halftime.
“That’s a learning point for them to be able to do that in big situations,” said Sullivan on the touchdown and conversion. “I feel really confident in our line and confident in our backs. That was huge touchdown at the end of the first half.”
The Bruins took the lead back in the third quarter when junior quarterback Christopher Brown ran down the sideline, and Santa Clara went up, 24-22. Brown threw for 227 yards and rushed for 40.
In the fourth quarter, Jackson III went hard down on his shoulder and suffered a minor injury and was kept out for a few plays. The running back still had a magnificent game and finished with 270 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Latu filled in for the injured Jackson III most of the fourth quarter and stepped up big for the Vikings.
With just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Latu sprinted across the field and dashed down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown and Palo Alto went up, 38-24. The junior finished with 142 yards and two touchdowns.
“Our running back got hurt so I had to step up,” said Latu. “I had to make plays for him and the team. It was a really big opportunity for me to play.”
The Vikings sealed the win with over a minute left in the fourth. Latu again burst through for a 29-yard score and Palo Alto took a commanding 44-24 lead.
Palo Alto will visit Saratoga (0-1, 3-2 overall) in a SCVAL matchup next Friday. The Falcons fell to Milpitas, 49-14.