Palo Alto suffers frustrating football loss to Wildcats

Aiden Chang carried 19 times for 136 yards. Photo by Karen Ambrose Hickey.

For Palo Alto, Friday night’s football game at Los Gatos was an exercise in frustration.

Going into the game the Vikings felt like they had made progress since last year and narrowed the gap between the two teams. But the final score, a 31-8 Los Gatos victory, was remarkably close to the two games played last year -- 35-6 and 31-6 Los Gatos victories.

Manny Soto/Karen Ambrose Hickey
“We controlled more of the game than we did in either of the two last year,’’ Palo Alto coach Danny Sullivan said. “We were pounding, pounding, pounding all night.’’

Aiden Chang carried 19 times for 136 yards and Paul Jackson III, back sooner than expected from a hamstring injury, chipped in with nine carries for 67 yards. Palo Alto (1-5, 1-1 SCVAL De Anza Division) outgained Los Gatos on the ground, 226-183. Los Gatos had a 162-73 advantage through the air.

But for all the yards gained Paly managed only one touchdown. And that came with 54 seconds left in the game on a 24-yard pass from Kyle Mostofizadeh to Junacio Henley.

The missed opportunity that hurt the most occurred in the second quarter. Trailing 10-0, Palo Alto drove from its own 23 to a first-and-goal at the Los Gatos 4 after back-to-back runs of 20 and 21 yards by Chang.

On first down Chang was stopped for a 1-yard loss. Jackson carried for 2 yards on second down and for 2 more on third down making it fourth down inside the 1. Paly went with Jackson one more time up the middle and he was stopped just short of the goal line.

“Running the ball is our biggest asset and we couldn’t punch it in from the 1-inch line,’’ Sullivan said.

Los Gatos (2-4, 1-1) turned around and drove 99 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-0 at halftime.

As frustration mounted Palo Alto was hit with five 15-yard penalties for personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct by an overzealous officiating crew.

“Whether it’s retaliation or frustration or whatnot, that’s unacceptable,’’ Sullivan said. “When we have a cool head we’re pretty good. When we get so frustrated we lose our focus level we’re in trouble. We’ve got to play better and behave better. To see a game get out of control like that on both sides. We all understand there’s not a lot of love for each other. But you’ve still got to play the right way. We understand that football is a violent game, but we’ve got to be better than our opponent.’’

The schedule doesn’t get any easier the next two weeks with Wilcox and Milpitas next up for the Vikings. But last year they pulled off a big upset win over Wilcox.

“We kind of shocked the world with that one,’’ Sullivan said. “Knowing we did that last year should give us confidence, but it’s a double-edged sword. Wilcox has remembered that for the last 11 ½ months.’’


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