Menlo-Atherton has the kind of defense you find on a team that could go far.
Too bad in this truncated season that means only two more games.
M-A held host Sacred Heart Prep to 108 yards of total offense Saturday in a hard-fought 15-7 victory with bragging rights on the line between the two neighboring rivals.
“I’m very proud of our effort,’’ first-year M-A coach Chris Saunders said. “Our defense was well prepared. We were in their backfield the whole time.’’
Sacred Heart Prep (3-1) tried to get its bread-and-butter ground game going with its normally effective fly offense, but was unable to do so. The Gators were held without a first down in the first half and managed only a net 9 yards rushing for the game.
“They’re a tough defense,’’ SHP coach Mark Grieb said. “Those 300-pound defensive linemen are hard to block. Their linebackers are super aggressive and the secondary is fast, can really close ground. We had our hands full. Give credit to M-A.’’
The one SHP touchdown -- a 46-yard pass from Teddy Purcell to a wide-open Beck Anderson -- was the first touchdown the Bears have allowed this season with a game still in question. They led Half Moon Bay 30-0 at halftime in the season opener and beat Burlingame 21-0 in their second game.
“I’ve had some good athletes before, but nothing like these kids,’’ said first-year M-A head coach Chris Saunders. “Take away one play and our defense was ferocious today.’’
SHP’s defense also played well and kept the team in the game. M-A (3-0) lost running back Thomas Taufui after three carries to a foot injury and turned to senior Dwayne Green, who carried 19 times for 95 hard-earned yards and both M-A touchdowns.
M-A took a 2-0 lead when a snap sailed over the Sacred Heart Prep punter, who booted it out of the end zone for a safety. Green’s 9-yard run for a touchdown made it 9-0 at halftime
When Purcell hit Anderson with the third-quarter touchdown pass it brought SHP within 9-7.
M-A took over on its own 20 and went on a 10-play drive down to the SHP 4-yard line, where Paul Barton forced a fumble and the Gators recovered.
But the Bears forced a punt and then drove 67 yards for a touchdown, a 12-yard run by Green.
“That’s a tough kid,’’ Saunders said of Green. “He works, goes to school and plays football. He has a full plate, his days are jam-packed. He’s a real special young man.’’
Quarterback Matt MacLeod completed 14 of 24 passes for 122 yards, and provided on the ground, carrying 12 times for 59 yards.
Late in the fourth quarter SHP used its final timeouts in an attempt to force a punt and get the ball back. On a third-and-8 MacLeod produced the game-clinching play for M-A when he ran 10 yards for a first down.
So was the play an option to run or pass or a quarterback run called from the outset?
“Quarterback run,’’ MacLeod said. “It’s always a great feeling to win against them, a crosstown rival. They’re a great team and came into the game with a lot of momentum.’’
Jalen Moss was MacLeod’s primary receiver with seven catches for 67 yards. He had an apparent 52-yard TD reception called back on a hold. Penalties were an issue for the Bears with nine for 90 yards. SHP was penalized three times for 35 yards.
John Carter had a sack for the Gators.
Purcell was pressured throughout. He still managed to complete 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards. He had averaged 211 yards passing per outing over SHP’s first three games.
Leki Tautua’a, a 300-pounder planning on playing rugby in college, had a third-down sack for a 12-yard loss on SHP’s first possession of the third quarter. Fale Mosley had a sack in the fourth quarter.
“In addition to their big plays they played hard,’’ Grieb said. “I thought they might get tired as the game went on, but they sustained that effort.’’