70-yard TD puts Menlo-Atherton into title contest
A 320-mile drive and early deficit against an undefeated squad looked a little ominous for the Menlo-Atherton football squad on Friday night in McKinleyville.
But then the state’s top-rated sophomore player, Troy Franklin, took over.
When Eureka responded to tie the game late, Franklin came to the rescue again.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver took a handoff from Jack Alexander and exploded off the left side for a 70-yard touchdown, his third score of the night, with 8:06 remaining to lift Menlo-Atherton to a 27-20 CIF Division 3-AA Northern California Bowl title win over Eureka.
The Bears (12-2) now will host Lincoln-San Diego (11-4) in next week’s title game.
Eureka had tied the game 20-20 with an 80-yard drive, coverting two fourth-down plays, capped by a 6-yard touchdown keeper from Cruz Montana with 8:20 remaining. The extra point was missed.
Then, on Menlo-Atherton’s first play on the ensuing drive, Franklin broke two arm tackles and was gone, sprinting the final 50 yards untouched.
Earlier, Franklin erased a 7-0 Eureka lead with a 69-yard catch and run on a pass from Alexander to tie the game at 7-7.
A 31-yard pass from Alexander to Justin Anderson set up Franklin’s second score, a 14-yarder to give the Bears a 14-7 lead. Deston Hawkins made it 20-7 midway through the second quarter with a 5yard TD run and Menlo-Atherton looked in command.
But Eureka (12-1) fought back, first on a 10-yard pass from Montana to Isley Telmau, to close to 20-14 with 7:34 left in the third. Then Montana faked an inside handoff to Robert Weir (150 yards rushing, one touchdown), and sprinted around the left side to tie the game at 20-20.
Following Franklin’s third touchdown, the Menlo-Atherton defense had to hold three times down the stretch. Del Oro-Loomis 14, St. Francis 13: For the second straight week, West Catholic Athletic League champion St. Francis dropped a one-point decision, this one in the NorCal Division 2-AA championship game in Loomis.
Quarterback Carson Jarratt lofted a perfect 13-yard touchdown pass to Matt Smart with 58 seconds left, lifting Del Oro (13-1) back from a 13-0 deficit.
On the ensuing kickoff, Evan Williams returned the ball 55 yards to the Del Oro 44. But after one first down, Dawson Hurst intercepted a desperation pass near the end zone to seal it.
Opeti Fangupo and Andre Bishop combined for over 200 rushing yards for St. Francis. Jarratt completed eight passes for 247 yards, nearly all of that coming in the fourth quarter.
St. Francis kicker Michael Lahey booted field goals of 32 and 26 yards in the first half to give St. Francis a 6-0 lead at the break.