Paly offense has trouble in SCVAL De Anza loss to Milpitas

The defense wasn't allowing Milpitas must running room at times. Photo by Jenna Hickey.

Palo Alto encountered a highly motivated Milpitas team Friday night and suffered a 17-7 defeat in a regular-season finale.

Paly (6-4, 3-3) finishes in a three-way tie with Milpitas and Mountain View for third place in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s De Anza Division.

Kevin Cullen returned an interception for a touchdown. Photo by Jenna Hickey.
The Vikings went into the game with running back Josh Butler (shoulder) and wide receiver Junacio Henley (concussion), two key offensive skill position players, both in street clothes. Then in the second quarter tight end and Colorado commit Lou Passarello went down with what looked like a season-ending separated shoulder.

Suddenly Palo Alto, a team with frontline quality but without a lot of depth to begin with, was playing minus three of its six starting skill position players.

Unable to mount an effective ground game against a Milpitas defense that was dropping eight players into pass coverage, Paly was held scoreless until the fourth quarter when Kevin Cullen scored on a 10-yard interception return. Alfredo Jack got a hand on the ball, batting it into the air, Cullen plucked it and ran.

Alex Wang’s PAT cut the Milpitas lead to 14-7 with 7:51 left, but the Trojans (4-6, 3-3), after recovering an onside kick, drove for a game-clinching 19-yard field goal.

This final game of the regular season ended similar to Paly’s season-opener, a 23-7 loss to St. Ignatius. The offense was held scoreless in each game.

“It’s something I’m going to have to look at and find a way to put the team in a better position to be successful,’’ Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford said.

The Vikings scored 249 points in their six wins this season, an average of 41.5 points per game. In their four losses they managed a combined 51 points, an average of 12.7 per game. As the offense goes so goes Paly.

Overall, Paly scored 300 points in 10 games, an even 30 points per game. The team’s defense played respectably against Milpitas, as it has all season, allowing only 17 points (143 on the season, 14.3 per game).

Milpitas running back Josue Torres helped the Trojans exercise ball control and clock dominance by carrying 35 times for 227 yards. Paly managed only 170 yards of total offense while giving up 295.

Paly will find out on Sunday it’s destination in the Central Coast Section playoffs.

“One positive is that we’re going to get to play some bonus football,’’ Gifford said. “I’m really proud of how these guys fought hard to the end.’’

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