Sports

M-A defense withstands Panthers attack in PAL victory

 
Moala Tautuaa (53), Ben Makoni (58) and Ryan Buck (51) helped keep Burlingame at bay. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

Menlo-Atherton withstood a big-time scare from Burlingame, holding on for a 14-10 victory in a Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division football opener on Friday night.

“That’s what the Bay Division will be this year,’’ M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. “Survive and drive.’’

M-A (3-2, 1-0) got off to a 14-0 lead as Miles Conrad ran for a touchdown and threw for one.

After that second TD -- an 8-yard pass to freshman Troy Franklin -- M-A attempted and recovered an onside kick.

Taking over at the Burlingame 48, M-A had a chance to really take control of the game and open a three-touchdown lead. But in a possession that turned out to be an indication of things to come, the Bears went three-and-out. De’Marshaun Payton ran for 1 yard on first down, Conrad was sacked and then threw incomplete on third-and-15.

Burlingame (4-1, 0-1) took over and drove for a touchdown -- a 43-yard pass from Carlo Lopiccolo to Dimitri Rally with 2:54 left in the half.

The Panthers were not only back in the game. They seized momentum and dominated time of possession the rest of the game.

Burlingame took over at the 20 to start the third quarter after Spencer Corona’s third kickoff for a touchback, and went on a 12-play drive that culminated in a 25-yard field goal to cut M-A’s lead to 14-10.

The Bears went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the second half and Burlingame put together another time-consuming drive, moving the ball in 10 plays from its own 31 to the M-A 17. But a 33-yard field goal attempts sailed wide.

At that point Burlingame had run 26 plays from scrimmage in the second half to six for M-A, which had its defense on the field for most of the second half.

A week after running up 56 points on Los Gatos, M-A managed only 14 points and 159 yards of total offense.

“This was like the story of our preseason, a lot of mental mistakes,’’ Ravipati said. “We missed a lot of blocks. We had a third-and-one and didn’t convert a quarterback sneak because of missed assignments by offensive linemen. We’ve got to do a better job of coaching our guys.’’

Burlingame’s defense held Payton, who had rushed for 268 yards the previous two games, to 47 yards on 18 carries.

“It was like watching a video game watching him run,’’ Burlingame coach John Philipopolous said of watching Payton on video. “I thought I was 16 playing Nintendo.’’

M-A’s defense was the key to the win, shutting down the Burlingame running game, limiting the Panthers to 76 yards on the ground. QB Carlo Lopiccolo hurt M-A with the pass, especially to Rally who had seven catches for 138 yards. But late in the game the Bears made sure no comeback win was in the cards for Burlingame.

“The nice thing is that ultimately we came out with a win,’’ Ravipati said. “It was an opportunity for us to grow as a team.’’

The Bears have a bye next week before hosting Sacred Heart Prep on Oct. 6.

“The bye week is coming at a good time for us,’’ Ravipati said. “We need to get healthy and get those little mistakes cleaned up.’’

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