The Menlo School football team is headed back to the CCS championship game after a 34-28 Division V victory over host Seaside on Friday.
Menlo improves to 11-1 and faces Half Moon Bay, a 16-13 winner over Sacred Heart Prep in Friday’s other semifinal.
The third-seeded Knights will square off against the fourth seed Cougars (10-2) on Saturday at Sequoia High.
Menlo needed a 92-yard drive in the final five minutes to score the game-winning touchdown: a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jack McNally from Hayden Pegley.
The Cougars handed Menlo its only loss of the season, 36-27, on the last day of September.
“I see it a close game,” Half Moon Bay junior running back Chase Hofmann said. “We have to come out and bring it. They like to throw the ball and our DBs will need to be ready.”
Hofmann, who rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Gators, went for 238 yards and four touchdowns in the Cougars first meeting with Menlo.
The Cougars pressured Pegley all day and held Charlie Ferguson to 23 yards rushing.
“The plan is to stop Charlie and make sure we keep him contained,” Hofmann said.
Once again, the Knights featured a diversified, multi-threat offense. Ferguson grabbed two touchdown catches and ran for another. Junior receiver Aidan Israelski added a rushing touchdown.
For the fourth consecutive week, Pegley passed for over 250 yards. Against Seaside, Pegley completed 22 of 46 passes for 378 yards and three TDs.
Evan King again passed the century mark with 163 yards on 10 catches, including a one-handed grab that Menlo coach Mark Newton called the greatest single high school catch he's eever seen.
King recalled the catch.
"I just put my hand up," he said, demonstrating with his right arm lifted straight over his head. "I thought my arm was here. But when I saw the film I realized my arm was back here."
King moved his right arm backward about a foot and leaned back.
Menlo junior Baily Deeter tallied a season-high 17 tackles and a sack. Israelski also collected 12 tackles and made an interception.
Seaside got on the board first when Keishawn Robinson scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
Ferguson's first score, a 77-yard pass from Pegley, pulled the Knights to within one 8-7 in the first. Ferguson scored twice - on a run and a reception - in the second quarter and Menlo took command heading into the half.
The Knights took over own eight-yard line and didn't do much on their first two plays.
Pegley and Israelski connected on a huge third-down play that took Menlo into Seaside territory.
"Hayden threw a perfect ball," Knights receiver Evan King said. "That was the biggest play because we didn't want to give the ball up so deep in our own territory. After that we kept clawing our way down field until Jack made a nice play on the touchdown."
The Knights are excited about getting a chance to beat the team that kept Menlo from a possible undefeated season.
"I think it's going to be a really good game," King said. "It's during the Thanksgiving holiday and there will be a lot of alumni there."
The game is also another opportunity for Pegley to show he's further developed as a quarterback.
"After that game, the offense started clicking and Hayden was smart with the ball," King said. "He's a lot more confident now."