Stavro Papadakis scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for 143 yards and the Menlo-Atherton football team opened PAL Bay Division play with a solid 28-8 victory over visiting Terra Nova on Friday night.
Aajon Johnson threw for a pair of scores and completed 8-of-12 passes for 108 yards for the Bears (1-0, 3-2), who host Burlingame at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Panthers (1-0, 3-2) beat visiting Sacred Heart Prep, 14-7, in another PAL Bay Division contest. The Gators (0-1, 0-5) hope to get things going Friday night against visiting Aragon.
Papadakis is also a cornerstone for the M-A defense, which limited the Tigers (0-1, 1-4) to 234 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
"Guys stepped up despite all the injuries," Bears coach Adhir Ravipati said. "We did a good job on defense."
M-A also lost Jordan Mims to an ejection near the end of the third quarter although he didn't do much of anything except try to protect his quarterback when a Terra Nova player gave him a push with his knee while on the ground. Mims did not throw a punch, nor did he shove anybody.
This is important because he faces a one-game suspension that he doesn't deserve. M-A plans to appeal it and send film of the encounter to PAL Commissioner Terry Stogner for review.
In the meantime, Papadakis became the main runner and produced big-time. He scored on runs of 40 and 41 yards and then all but helped the Bears run the clock out.
Mekhi Blackmon scored the game's first touchdown less than four minutes in, catching a 23-yard scoring toss from Aajon Johnson.
Blackmon had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown called back because of a hold following the pick.
The Bears clinched it when Johnson found Anders Chiang hanging out in the back of the end zone without a Tiger defender in sight. The play went for 17 yards.
"He's the example of the next guy up," Ravipati said. "He had to play defensive end and wide receiver tonight. A lot of guys played out of position."
The M-A secondary got a boost when senior free safety Josh Lepulu returned to the lineup after an injury kept him on the sidelines since the Bellarmine game.
That allowed Marquise Reid to play in the box and return Tate Tussing, Kevin Jaggers and Blackmon to familiar positions.
The secondary played superbly against Tigers quarterback Nathan Gordon, who possesses a rifle arm and is accurate. The only reason he didn't complete a few more passes was the Bears' secondary.
Actually, there were a few other reasons. Their names are Noa Ngalu, Epeli Mataele, Christian Wiseman, Devon Dundas, who intercepted a pass, Papadakis and Chiang.
At Burlingame, Tommy Barnds rushed four yards for a touchdown to tie the score in the fourth quarter but the Panthers were able to force a fumble that set up the winning score.
Isoa Moimoi and Barnds combined to rush for 108 of Sacred Heart Prep's 129 rushing yards.
Thomas Wine was 8-of-17 passing for 106 yards. Michael Mooring caught six passes for 63 yards.
Josh Suzuki recorded 10 tackles, including a sack.