In a high school football game with 88 points scored and nearly 900 yards of offense, it was two defensive plays that were decisive for Gunn in its 56-32 victory over visiting Los Altos.
Gunn improved to 6-1 overall, 2-1 in league, and continued to hold a share of the El Camino Division lead.
Gunn stopped Los Altos (3-5, 2-2) for no gain on a fourth-and-1 on the first series of the game and countered with a scoring drive to take a lead on a 44-yard run by Phillip Doan.
The importance of that initial stop became apparent once Los Altos got its offense going. The Eagles scored in three plays on its next drive, capped by running back Aaron Parker’s 39-yard run. Parker’s run for a two point conversion tied the game at 8-8.
The second big stop came in the third quarter after Los Altos cut Gunn’s lead to 28-20 on a Parker 24-yard run. The Eagles recovered an onside kick and drove to the Gunn 33. On fourth-and-6, quarterback Charlie Kinne was dropped for a 1-yard loss.
Gunn scored on its final four possessions to close out the game.
“That team is scary. I don’t want to play them again. That guy (Parker) is good and we knew he was going to get his.” said Gunn coach Jason Miller. “We had the big fourth-down stop early and then another in the second half. Those were big plays.”
Parker ran with speed and force. The junior rushed for 266 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns, the longest a 70-yarder in the fourth quarter.
But Gunn countered with an overpowering ground game of its own. Doan rushed for 193 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns in his best game of the season. He scored Gunn’s first two touchdowns on runs of 21 and 18 yards. He added another in the fourth quarter from four yards.
Eitan Smolyar, limited to 12 yards in the first half, rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. Smolyar’s touchdowns came on consecutive plays. He sprinted 44 yards late in the third quarter and after Gunn forced a Los Altos punt, Smolyar burst for a 47-yard score.
“We go with the hot hand on offense,” Miller said. “All the guys are capable of running the ball but we tell them during the week we are giving the ball to whoever has the hot hand.”
To Miller’s point about running depth, junior Richard Jackson added 64 yards and two touchdowns.
Gunn’s final rushing touchdown was earned by lineman Saia Faasisila, who bulled in from three yards out, flattening would-be tackles and carrying others.
Backup quarterback Ayush Nagrani rushed once for 1 yard, but the time and consequence was immense. With Gunn leading 15-14 in the final minutes of the first half, quarterback Aidan Everett was twisted on a 9-yard run and had to be helped from the field. Nagrani came in, pitched the ball twice to Doan who ran for 3 and 22 yards, and then plunged in from the 1 to extend Gunn’s lead to 22-14.
Everett came back in the second half and showed no ill effects.
If Gunn can win its final three games against Lynbrook, Cupertino and Homestead, it will capture the division title and an automatic berth to the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“Right now we control our destiny,” Miller said. It’s all about focusing on ourselves and getting better.”