Menlo-Atherton senior quarterback Aajon Johnson accounted for five touchdowns and the Bears earned a 42-14 Central Coast Section Open Division quarterfinal victory over visiting Wilcox Friday night.
The top-seeded Bears improved to 9-2 while the No. 8 Chargers fell to 5-6 on the season.
“I said going into it, ‘That’s not an eight-seed,’” said MA head coach Adhir Ravipati. “You can make the argument that they were the top-four team in our bracket. To win in the fashion we did, we played overall disciplined football. It was definitely a big win. For us to get a first round playoff win and keep playing, it’s a big thing.”
Menlo-Atherton came out of the gates quickly when running back Jordan Mims took it 62 yards to the end zone on the first play of the game and MA went up 7-0. Mims had a solid game and finished with 150 yards on the ground.
On the Bears second drive of the game it took them eight plays to get in the end zone. Aajon Johnson ran up the middle and got a huge block from Ben Makoni and scored on a two-yard touchdown making it a 14-0 game.
In the same quarter, Johnson again took it in for the keeper and ran in for a 10-yard score making it a 21-7 MA lead going into the second quarter.
“We really wanted to try to get up on them early,” said Ravipati. “The fact that they run the ball so well, we wanted to see if we could get them out of their comfort zone a little bit and we were able to do that.”
In the second quarter, Johnson hooked up with wide receiver Spencer Corona in the corner of the end zone and the junior leaped up and caught the ball. The Bears went up 28-14 with just under a minute left in the half.
“I knew it’d be a good play,” said Johnson, who threw for 237 yards. “We got Marquise (Reid) on it the play before and I knew the corner would bite -- I trusted Spencer.”
With just under a minute left in the third quarter, Johnson sprinted in for his third rushing touchdown of the game making it a 35-14 MA lead.
The MA defense held both of The Chargers top rushing leaders, Richard Herrera and David Hernandez to just 122 yards combined. The two totaled over 1,000 yards on the season.
In the fourth quarter, Aajon Johnson found his brother, Aaron Johnson wide open down the field and the senior ran down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. The second time Aajon threw a touchdown to his brother on the season.
“Those two have a pretty good connection,” said Ravipati. “It was good to see him take it to the end zone.”
MA will square off against Bellarmine (7-4) in the Open Division semifinals Friday night. The Bells beat MA in the season opener 34-20.
“I told the kids at the end of the game, ‘We are going to get another shot at them,’” said Ravipati. “They’ve gotten a lot better as the year's gone on, I’ve felt like we’ve gotten better too. I told them, ‘That opportunity is going to show up and when it comes, are you going to be ready for it?’” I think it’s only right to that we have to beat them to get to the championship game.”
CCS Open Division II
Paul Jackson III scored Palo Alto's lone touchdown in Friday night's 31-6 loss to host Los Gatos.
The Vikings (4-7) earned their spot in the playoffs after beating Mountain View last week in a must-win situation.
Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan saw his first season at the helm end on the football field where he played his high school ball.
No. 2 seed Los Gatos (8-3) meets No. 6 Mitty (6-5) in the next round.
The Monorachs knocked defending champion Oak Grove.
Serra and St. Francis meet in the other semifinal.