In a game between rival schools separated by less than 2½ miles, it came down to the toes and fingertips of Mike Scott.
The Palo Alto senior receiver outjumped a Menlo-Atherton defender and caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Will Brandin with 13.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Friday atFoothill College, dragging his feet in bounds for the winning score in the Vikings’ 14-7 Central Coast Section Large School Division championship game win. It was the second straight CCS title and the third overall for the third-seeded Vikings (11-2).
"Coach [Earl Hansen] kept calling running plays and I asked him to give me a chance," said Scott, who finished with six catches for 77 yards. "I knew in my mind exactly what moves I wanted to make before the ball was snapped and I knew I could do something spectacular."
Scott’s touchdown finished off a 21-point fourth-quarter flurry after the two teams entered the final period scoreless. After James McCollough put Paly ahead 7-0 with a 3-yard run with 9:53 remaining, the top-seeded Bears (11-2) came right back to tie the score with a nine-play, 58-yard drive. On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, M-A quarterback Troy McCabe faked a handoff and found tight end Matt Mosher open in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
M-A then appeared to have the Vikings stopped on their ensuing possession, forcing a fourth-and-14 at the Bears 42. But Brandin (16-for-24, 177 yards) found Jordan Jefferson over the middle for a 19-yard completion, setting up Scott’s heroics.
"It still hasn’t really sunk in — I can’t believe it’s over," M-A senior linebacker Andrew Klein said. "But I love these guys to death and I’m so proud of the season we had."
It was a year that featured an undefeated run through the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division and two wins over longtime conference king Aragon, including last week’s 41-28 semifinal victory. McCabe finished 12-of-18 for 130 yards and Will Latu had 84 yards rushing for the Bears, while Klein had an interception and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"I’ll just go tell the guys what a great season we had," M-A coach Bob Sykes said when asked what he would talk to his team about following the game. "We had a lot of positive things happen this year and made it all the way to the championship game. We just couldn’t pull that last one off."
Palo Alto 14, Menlo-Atherton 7
Palo Alto 0 0 0 14 — 14
Menlo-Atherton 0 0 0 7 — 7
PA—James McCollough 3 run (Tyger Pederson kick), 9:53
MA—Matt Mosher 4 pass from Troy McCabe (Lee Bader kick), 6:01
PA—Mike Scott 14 pass from Will Brandin (Pederson kick), :13.6
RUSHING—Palo Alto: James McCollough 21-105, Brandon Boyd 12-32, Will Brandin 4-13. Menlo-Atherton: Will Latu 14-84, Bobby Bustos 5-33, Jamal Wilkins 8-26, Troy McCabe 3-(minus-6).
PASSING—Palo Alto: Brandin 16-24-2-177. Menlo-Atherton: McCabe 12-18-2-130.
RECEIVING—Palo Alto: Mike Scott 6-77, Jordan Jefferson 5-43, Mike Martin 3-38, Will Holder 2-19. Menlo-Atherton: Russell Perkins 3-48, Matt Mosher 3-43, Sam Knapp 3-10, Steve Disibio 2-22, Bustos 1-7.