Varsity Boys Football

Palo Alto 17, Los Gatos 14

Date of competition: Friday, November 14, 2008

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Palo Alto accomplished quite a lot as Will Holder kicked a 20-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play, giving the Vikings a 17-14 football victory over host Los Gatos on Friday to end the SCVAL De Anza Division regular season.
The victory gave Paly (4-2, 7-3) a tie for second place in the division with the Wildcats (4-2, 7-3). It also gave the Vikings the tiebreaker over Los Gatos, thus propelling them into the Central Coast Section playoffs with an automatic berth.
The Vikings, however, came up short in points in another area, which cost them at the CCS seeding meeting on Sunday. Los Gatos received the No. 4 seed in the CCS Medium School Division while Paly got the No. 6 seed. While the Wildcats get to play a first-round game at home, the Vikings will have to travel to face No. 3 Leigh (7-3) on Saturday at 7 p.m.
That sets up a possible semifinal berth opposite No. 2 Monterey while Los Gatos could meet No. 1 Pioneer (9-1) in the semifinals. While Los Gatos seemingly got a break, at least for its CCS opener, Palo Alto did get some personal satisfaction by beating Los Gatos on its own turf. The loss ruined the Wildcats' shot at a three-way co-championship with Milpitas and Wilcox (both 5-1), while the win provides Paly with plenty of momentum at this point in the season.
Given the fact Los Gatos handed Paly a 42-7 stomping in last year's game that led to a nine-game winning streak for the Vikings and a CCS Large School Division title, Holder said this victory will again motivate the Vikings to another championship.
"We played like we were supposed to be playing this entire season," Holder said. "I think that if we keep it up, we could make a deep run in the playoffs."
Senior running back Sam Tompkins-Jenkins led the charge for the Vikings as he rushed for 142 yards on 28 carries while also chipping in two touchdown runs of two and four yards. He was supported by his senior quarterback Will Brandin, who threw for 203 yards on 15-of-22 passing. It was only three weeks ago that Brandin suffered a slight shoulder separation in a loss to Wilcox.
While Brandin began strong by completing his first seven passes, the Wildcats struck first. Known for a powerful running attack anchored around a large offensive line, Los Gatos stuck to this strategy as it ran the ball eight consecutive times before scoring with 4:59 left in the first quarter. Paly fumbled away its next possession, but eventually recovered the ball on junior safety Scott Witte's interception. Paly scored on a Tompkins-Jenkins' two-yard dash promptly after a 38-yard connection from Brandin to Joc Pederson.
Paly scored again late in the second quarter after a 14-play, 80-yard drive during which Brandin connected on all five of his passes before handing it off to Tompkins-Jenkins for a four-yard touchdown run. With time ticking off the clock, Los Gatos quarterback Nick Hirschman connected on three passes as the Wildcats evened the score at 14 all.
After both teams went scoreless in the third quarter, Palo Alto began a lengthy drive that consumed over five minutes of the clock. The Vikings converted four third downs on their way to Holder's field goal for a 17-14 lead. Palo Alto almost gave the victory away, however, when Wildcats' kick returner Christian Cusella broke loose on a 69-yard return. Luckily for the Vikings, special teams standout Kasey Fields made a game-saving tackle as time expired.
While Holder was the target on third downs, Brandin's favorite target continued to be Pederson, the junior wide receiver who hauled in six passes for 107 yards. Pederson picked up where he left off in last week's game against Mountain View as he worked the Los Gatos defense for four plays of 15 or more yards. Friday's game brought his total to 625 yards on the season, averaging 79 yards a game.
Hansen, meanwhile, praised the work of A.J. Castillo, Troy Boyland and David Chatman, plus defensive ends Andy Maliska and Steven Gargiulo plus linebacker Sean Keohane for pressuring Los Gatos throughout the night and producing the Vikings' best defensive performance of the season -- blanking the Wildcats in the second half. "Our defense stepped up tonight and our linebackers stuffed the run," Holder said. "Our line played well and that gets everything going."

posted by Philip Homnack, coach on Nov 14, 2008 at 11:45 pm


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