Menlo-Atherton High football players walked silently to its post-game meeting in Aragon High's south end zone. They didn't look happy.
The Bears beat the host Dons, 48-35, and were never really in danger of losing, though Aragon scored three touchdowns in the span of 3:16 of the fourth quarter to make it interesting.
Menlo-Atherton coach Adhir Ravipati reminded his team how dominant they were the first 43 minutes of the contest and how poorly they played the final five minutes. It was a lesson learned.
"It was a good win," Bears quarterback Aajon Johnson offered, "but we need to finish."
M-A clinched at least a co-title in the PAL Bay Division for the second straight season and that's not good enough, not after losing out on an outright title last year.
The Bears (4-0, 6-2) host Hillsdale at 2 p.m. next Saturday in their final league contest with a chance to run the table.
"Our coaches, they stress finishing," Johnson said. "We started slow and finished badly. We have to finish."
M-A was in this same spot last year, unbeaten in league play heading into the finale. The Bears lost to Burlingame and had to share the title with the Panthers and Sacred Heart Prep.
"That doesn't sit well with us," Johnson said. "This game should not have been so close but now we focus on Hillsdale. This is what it is all about."
Hillsdale (1-2, 4-4) beat visiting Sacred Heart Prep (1-3, 1-7), 16-13, when Ben Nestor kicked a 25-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Burlingame (2-1, 4-3) came from behind to beat visiting Terra Nova, 17-10, in the other Bay Division game.
Two second-half fumbles deep in its own territory cost M-A a pair of touchdowns, the Dons recovered an onside kick to set up another score and Donaven Robinson returned an interception for another touchdown.
Aragon ran 69 offensive plays in the contest to M-A's 39, though the Bears' longest scoring drive of the day was an 8-play, 52-yard drive culminating in Marquise Reid's 6-yard run to put the Bears ahead 48-14 midway through the final quarter.
M-A scored its other six touchdowns in seven plays or less, including four of two plays or less.
Mekhi Blackmon's fifth interception of the season set up Johnson's 19-yard scoring toss to Spencer Corona in the first quarter and Johnson scored on runs of 81 and 80 yards. Jordan Mims added a 77-yard touchdown run and Tate Tussing added a six-yard scoring run.
Johnson finished with 209 rushing yards and Mims added 128 as the Bears totaled 400 yards on the ground.
Isoa Moimoi scored a pair of touchdowns for the Gators, the second one tying the game at 13 early in the fourth quarter.
Moimoi finished with 75 rushing yards, while Thomas Wine added 29 yards on five carries.
Brad Yaffe threw for 70 yards on 5-of-12 passing.
David Peterson recorded 13 tackles and intercepted a pass and Brendan Semien added 11 tackles.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Menlo defeated visiting Sequoia, 29-14, Friday to move into a tie with Half Moon Bay for the league lead.
The Cougars (3-1, 7-1) lost at The King's Academy, 49-35, on Friday night. The Knights (3-1, 7-1) lost to Half Moon Bay but came back to beat TKA (2-2, 6-2).
"Sequoia's always tough every year, they have huge guys and their lines are always terrific," Menlo receiver and defensive back Jack McNally said. "I think we game-planned for them correctly, both offensively and defensively."
Menlo football has held its opponents scoreless through eight quarters in a span of three games. The Knights have outscored their opponents, 300-98, and have three shutout wins this season. Menlo held Sequoia to nearly half its total yards.
In Sequoia's first possession after the half, Menlo junior Xavier Dickinson recovered a fumble at the Cherokees' 20. A pair of runs by senior Charlie Ferguson and an Evan King reception put the ball at the 5, from where Ferguson ran it in.
"It allowed the tackle to not be able to see me, and I got through easily and the quarterback fumbled the snap and I was able to recover the fumble," Dickinson said.
Less than a minute later, Dickinson read the slant, dropped in the passing lane and made an interception on third down, and ran back the ball to Sequoia's half-yard line. Ferguson again punched it in, and the Knights led 29-0 midway through the third.
Along with his fumble recovery and interception, Dickinson rolled up 11 tackles. He was joined by juniors JH Tevis and Baily Deeter, each of who accounted for 11 tackles.
Woodside used a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to edge host South San Francisco, 47-46, in another Ocean Division contest.