Sacred Heart Prep defensive back Riley Tinsley intercepted Menlo quarterback Will King at the seven-yard line with 28 seconds left to end a potential game-tying touchdown as the Gators held on to defeat the Knights, 10-3, in a PAL Bay Division football game Friday night at Sequoia High.
Sacred Heart improved to 4-1 (9-1 overall) while the Knights fell to 2-3 (6-4 overall) in the annual Valparaiso Bowl. The Gators will head into the Central Coast Section playoffs most likely with the No. 1 seed in Division IV. The CCS seeding meeting is Sunday.
"For our nine seniors this was our last Valpo Bowl," said senior running back Chris Lee, who scored the game-winning touchdown. "We got the No. 1 seed in playoffs; it was a big win for us."
Menlo Junior defensive back Jack Marren picked off Sacred Heart sophomore quarterback Mason Randall and gave the Knights field position at the Gators eight-yard line. The interception was followed by a 29-yard field goal from senior Kevin Walker, putting Menlo up 3-0 after the first quarter.
The Knights shut out the Gators' offense in the first half, giving up just 32 total yards. Sacred Heart carried the ball nine times and averaged only 2.8 yards per carry.
The Sacred Heart defense also had a solid first half, giving up only 25 passing yards and a field goal to the Knights' offense. Menlo's passing game struggled all game long as it totaled only 39 yards, including two interceptions.
That was a result of Knights' starter Jack Heneghan not playing. He suffered a should injury in last week's loss to Menlo-Atherton. King, normally a wide receiver, replaced Heneghan and led a ground-oriented attack. It was the first time King played quarterback all season.
The Gators got their first points on the board in the third quarter with a 25-yard field goal by Tinsley to tie the game at 3-3.
The Sacred Heart offense stepped up in the fourth quarter when Lee ran in for a seven-yard touchdown with 2:02 left in the game, giving the Gators the 10-3 edge.
"My O' line made a big hole and I was able to get through," said Lee. "Ricky (Grau) made a good block on the safety -- that was key."
On the Knights' next possession, the offense moved the ball all the way down to the Gators' 21 but couldn't score. Tinsley picked off King with 28 seconds left in the game and sealed the win for Sacred Heart.
"I just happened to be in the right place," said Tinsley. "We got good pressure from our line. You you couldn't ask for anything better. It's a great win. We just have to keep our heads up and be confident going into playoffs."
Menlo-Atherton 40, Woodside 33
Senior running back Isiah Nash rushed 33 times for 245 yards and scored four touchdowns to pace Menlo-Atherton to a nonleague football win over host Woodside to cap the regular season for both teams.
The Bears (7-3) trailed throughout the game until Nash scored on a three-yard run with 10:40 left in the game to give the Bears a 32-27 lead. Teammate Brian Jaggers provided the winning points when he scored on a 10-yard run with 2:42 left on the clock, capping an eight-play, 91-yard drive. M-A trailed by 27-25 at halftime despite 163 rushing yards and three TDs by Nash.
In other games Friday:
Palo Alto finished up 5-5 overall following a 48-5 drubbing of host Santa Clara in a SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season finale.
Gunn (0-5, 1-9) saw its season end following a 17-14 loss to visiting Lynbrook on Senior Night in SCVAL El Camino Division action.