M-A a little short in CCS championship caliber contest

Troy Franklin caught two touchdown passes and had kickoff return called back. Photo by Noah Eisner/@eisneronsports.

In a rematch of last year’s Central Coast Section Division I football championship game Wilcox and Menlo-Atherton put on a spectacular offensive show Friday night at M-A. And the way it unfolded -- one team scoring and then the other responding -- it looked like the team to score last would have the final laugh as well as the win.

And that’s exactly what occurred.

The score was 35-35 at the end of four quarters. Wilcox had the ball first in overtime and scored on the second play, an 8-yard run by Paul M. Rosa.

M-A, which had moved up and down the field all game in explosive chunks of yardage, looked like it didn’t really have a game plan ready for a 10-yard field. The Bears lost 7 yards on three plays and a pass intended for a receiver in the end zone on fourth down fell incomplete.

Wilcox (9-2) will move on to play the winner of Saturday’s Serra-Half Moon Bay game in the CCS Division I semifinals.

“When we scored the touchdown to tie it (an 8-yard fourth-down pass from Matt MacLeod to Troy Franklin with 3:19 left in regulation) I was thinking, this is not a 10-yard team, maybe we should go for two.’’ M-A coach Steve Papin said. “But then I thought, we have Troy to jump for a ball.’’

That’s what happened on the tying touchdown. Facing fourth-and-goal at the 8 and trailing 35-28, MacLeod lofted a pass up high and let Franklin sky for the ball. The 6-2 junior wide receiver came down with it and the PAT tied the score. And on the first play of the game MacLeod and Franklin hooked up on an 80-yard touchdown pass.

But the final pass of the night on fourth down in overtime was thrown to Jayden Stanley and it sailed out of bounds.

MacLeod completed 18 of 32 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns. Jalen Moss, a sophomore like MacLeod, had five catches for 148 yards and a touchdown -- a 51-yarder with 1.3 seconds left in the second quarter that made the score 28-28 at halftime. Franklin had five catches for 116 yards and Justin Anderson seven receptions for 77 yards.

The Bears also had 138 yards rushing with Francisco Sanchez gaining 73 yards on eight carries, including a 46-yard run for a touchdown, and Thomas Taufui with 50 yards on nine carries.

“I should’ve run more early, should’ve stuck with my instincts,’’ Papin said. “I thought we were bigger up front. But then Thamas Taufui got banged up and I got away from the run.’’

Wilcox invariably causes opposing defenses severe headaches with its veer formation ground attack. Rosa, the son of the Wilcox coach, carried 39 times for 246 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw a halfback option pass for a 73-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, one of only two passes Wilcox completed. In all the Chargers pounded 64 rushing plays for 401 yards. And their execution was nearly flawless with only one illegal procedure penalty and one fumble lost.

“We pride ourselves on that, especially playing against teams with real good athletes, we can’t make mistakes,’’ Wilcox coach Paul Rosa said. “We try to grind out the game, make it a boring game.’’

The yardage totals show what a tight game it was: M-A finished with 490 yards of total offense, Wilcox with 487, thoroughly entertaining a near capacity crowd which included former M-A stars and current Washington Huskies Daniel Heimuli and Noa Ngalu, at Coach Parks Field.

“The guys fought hard and didn’t quit,’’ Papin said. “Unfortunately we lost to a pretty good football team.’’

And so Papin’s first year as M-A coach ended with a 7-4 record.

“We had athletes all over the field but we lacked discipline,’’ Papin said. “Moving forward that’s something I’m going to address. The kickoff return was a perfect example.’’

After Wilcox took a 35-28 lead on Rosa’s halfback-option pass, Franklin returned the ensuing kickoff length of the field for an apparent touchdown. But a 15-yard penalty negated the return.

“It gets to be a stigma,’’ Papin said. “Now that the season is over changing that is going to be a priority.’’

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