Mountain View seemed to figure the best way to stop Palo Alto was to stifle the run and dare the Vikings to throw.
The gambit worked up front, but left the secondary short of help and Palo Alto’s big play athletes were more than enough to capitalize as Palo Alto exploded for a 36-7 victory. The Vikings (6-3, 3-2) and Spartans (7-2, 3-2) are tied for third place behind Wilcox (5-0) and Los Gatos (4-1) in the division standings.
Quarterback Danny Peters threw four touchdowns – all longer than 30 yards – and Junacio Henley returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter
“The big thing was their defense kept us from running the ball,” said Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford. “They didn’t want us to grind the ball like we would like to. They wanted to put the game on our sophomore quarterback and while Danny didn’t have his best game, he made some great throws.”
Mountain View punted on the opening series and Henley fielded the punt at the Paly 38. He headed right, reversed field and cut-up the middle before angling to the right and into the end zone. Kevin Cullen hit Louis Passarello for an alley-oop two-point conversion and the Vikings were up 8-0 without running a play.
Mountain View’s defense didn’t allow Paly rhythm on offense, but Peters spread the ball to his receivers and let them run.
After Mountain View scored on a 24-yard pass late in the first quarter from Trent Steffen to Julian Daniels, Paly responded with a 75-yard drive that included a 4th-and-6 conversion and capped by a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jamir Shepard, who caught the quick out, broke a tackle and sprinted to the score.
Colin Giffen scored the first of his two touchdowns near the end of the half when he hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass. Giffen added another midway through the third period when he raced 79 yards after catching a touch pass along the sideline.
Peters’ sophomore classmate Brody Simison accounted for the last big play, taking a short pass and winding 42 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Peters completed 13 of 24 passes for 252 yards and Giffen aided in nearly half of those yards, finishing with 125 yards on four catches.
After scoring in the first quarter, Mountain View had nine more possessions. Palo Alto’s defense forced four four-and-outs, two fumbles, a punt and a missed field goal.
Palo Alto concludes league play next Friday at Milpitas. Mountain View hosts Los Gatos.