Special teams, big plays mean football victory for M-A | News | Palo Alto Online |


Special teams, big plays mean football victory for M-A

Nick Anderson scored on two long kickoff returns. Photo by Bob Dahlberg.

Imagine running only 10 plays from the line of scrimmage in the first half and still scoring 28 points.

That's Menlo-Atherton High for you. The Bears in fact had 21 plays from scrimmage, but still claimed a 42-35 win over visiting Sacred Heart Prep in a PAL Bay Division game on Friday night.

"It was not our best effort, but it was a win, and if you get points you'll take them," said M-A head coach Adhir Ravipati, whose team got two kickoff returns for touchdowns by Nick Anderson (96 and 85 yards). Anderson also scored on a 49-yard running play.

That last score came with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter, and gave M-A a 28-21 lead. It was also the Bears' fourth play from scrimmage. Yep.

You see, M-A didn't spend much time worrying about sustained drives. In fact, it had only one -- from its own 10, with the score tied at 35-35 late in the fourth quarter. A 20-yard pass from Miles Conrad to Joey Olshausen and a 33-yard keeper by Conrad were the big plays on the 90-yard drive.

That gave M-A a 42-35 lead, but Sacred Heart still had 5:50 left to come back. But a 10-play drive stalled at the Bears' 25, when M-A's Kilifi Leaaetoa and Moala Tautuaa were in on a stop up the middle on fourth-and-one that gave the Bears the ball on downs.

"We finally executed," said Ravipati of the fourth quarter. "We were missing reads, making mistakes, and there were penalties (among them three personal fouls). But give them (Sacred Heart) credit. They did a good job."

Senior quarterback Brad Yaffe was 21-of-34 for 272 yards and two TDs, including completions of 45 and 57 yards to Dominic Cacchione (five catches, 131 yards).

Tommy Barnds had 85 yards on 20 carries, behind an offensive line (Jake Davison, Robert Thompson, and Nick Schlotter in particular) who more than held their own against much larger opponents.

The teams traded touchdowns until the third quarter, when M-A's David Tafuna pressured the QB to throw a pass that Rashad Johnson picked off in the flat and ran in 35 yards for a touchdown, giving M-A a 35-21 lead.

But still the Gators came back. Sacred Heart tied it at 35 on two TDs -- Yaffe's three-yard keeper late in the third quarter, and Yaffe's 8-yard pass to Kyle Cody with 7:22 left in the game.

Sacred Heart fell to 0-2 in the Bay Division, as M-A improved to 2-0.

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