Menlo-Ather­ton ral­lies from deficit of 3 TDs

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Chace Bryson MaxPreps se­nior writer Mitch Stephens con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Fri­day night’s Cen­tral Coast Sec­tion Open Di­vi­sion 1 cham­pi­onship hadn’t even elapsed 15 min­utes of game time and Menlo-Ather­ton trailed Wil­cox by three touch­downs.

Which made the Bears’ come­back — which fea­tured in­spired quar­ter­back play from a fresh­man off the bench, and seven de­fen­sive take­aways — that much more im­pres­sive.

Sopho­more re­ceiver Troy Franklin com­pleted the come­back when he ran a re­verse for a 17-yard touch­down with 3:33 left in the game. The de­fense fol­lowed with its sixth and sev­enth take­aways as Menlo-Ather­ton won its sec­ond ti­tle in three years, 33-28 at In­de­pen­dence High.

“Ev­ery­one doubted us. We were an un­der­dog in this game and los­ing by three touch­downs,” Menlo-Ather­ton se­nior line­backer Daniel Heimuli said. “We came out and we shoved it. … We didn’t give up. We kept faith. We just fin­ished.”

Heimuli ac­counted for two of the take­aways, a first-half in­ter­cep­tion that led to the Bears’ sec­ond TD, and a fourth-quar­ter fum­ble re­cov­ery. Wil­cox had five fourth-quar­ter pos­ses­sions, and four ended in turnovers.

“De­fense re­ally does win cham­pi­onships. That’s all I’ve got to say,” Menlo-Ather­ton’s Wash­ing­ton-bound de­fen­sive line­man Noah Ngalu said.

Look­ing for a spark, Men­loAther­ton (11-2) started fresh­man Matt MacLeod at quar­ter­back to open the sec­ond half. He would go on to throw for 116 yards and a touch­down.

Wil­cox (12-1) was led by run­ning backs Gabe Her­rera and

Paul M. Rosa. Her­rera rushed for 108 yards and Rosa had 143 yards from scrim­mage.

Both teams are ex­pected to earn CIF North­ern Re­gional Bowl bids Sun­day.

North Coast Sec­tion

Car­di­nal New­man-Santa Rosa 38, El Cer­rito 0: Shane Mo­ran ran for two early touch­downs and the top-seeded Car­di­nals (12-1) rode their de­fense to the Di­vi­sion 3 semi­fi­nal home vic­tory. That means New­man will flip a coin with Satur­day’s win­ner be­tween Las Lo­mas-Wal­nut Creek at Eureka to de­cide a spot in the CIF North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Bowl cham­pi­onships. In Divisions 2-5, NCS fi­nal­ists have been given the choice to ei­ther play for the sec­tion cham­pi­onship or flip for the CIF tour­na­ment, both which would be next week­end. Of the 16 teams that en­tered the semi­fi­nals of those divisions, 14 re­port­edly have picked to play for the sec­tion ti­tle. Car­di­nal New­man coach Paul Cronin said Fri­day he let his team vote on it and they’d rather flip with a chance to move to a re­gional and pos­si­ble state bowl cham­pi­onship. That means Las Lo­mas or Eureka don’t have a say in the de­ci­sion. They’ll have to flip on Sun­day. The NCS tour­na­ment was post­poned two week­ends due to poor air qual­ity caused by the Camp Fire, caus­ing the con­flict.

Free­dom-Oak­ley 35, Cal­i­for­ni­aSan Ra­mon 34: In a Di­vi­sion 1 semi­fi­nal, Free­dom (9-3) fought back from a 21-0 deficit to take a 35-28 lead, only to have host Cal­i­for­nia (8-4) score a touch­down with 15 sec­onds left but fail on a two-point con­ver­sion. Cal­i­for­nia re­cov­ered the on­side kick and af­ter a long gain, a 46-yard field goal at­tempt fell short.

Marin Catholic-Kent­field 7, Ran­cho Co­tate-Rohn­ert Park 2: Quar­ter­back Gavin Cooke rushed for 81 yards and the game’s only touch­down, plus had two sec­ond-half in­ter­cep­tions on de­fense, the last com­ing with less than a minute to play to clinch the Di­vi­sion 2 semi­fi­nal for the vis­it­ing Wild­cats (10-3). Ran­cho Co­tate (11-2) scored only when Cooke took an in­ten­tional safety with 1:28 to play.

Moreau Catholic-Hay­ward 56, San Marin-No­vato 47: Fresh Ison rushed for nearly 400 yards and four touch­downs, lead­ing the top-seeded and host Mariners (12-0) to the Di­vi­sion 4 win over the Mus­tangs (8-4).

Oak­land Sec­tion

McC­ly­monds-Oak­land 38, Oak­land 0: Kaun Green threw two touch­down passes and Adi Anderson and fresh­man Dreyan Paul added first-half TD runs of 40 and 10 yards as the topseeded War­riors (10-2) took a 26-0 half­time lead en route to their ninth con­sec­u­tive Oak­land Sec­tion/Sil­ver Bowl ti­tle at Laney Col­lege.

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