LOS GATOS — On a night filled with offense, the game Friday night between Menlo-Atherton and Los Gatos turned on one heck of a defensive play.
Los Gatos was 3 yards from evening the score midway through the second quarter when M-A linebacker Kilifi Leaaetoa crashed through the line and smashed into running back Will Fordyce.
Linebacker Daniel Heimuli, charging in from the left side, added a second crushing hit on the running back, forcing a fumble.
D’arius Gipson scooped up the ball and ran 98 yards for a touchdown that extended the lead to 14 points. The Bears went on to a 56-41 victory to even their record at 2-2.
“That’s what you call teamwork,” Leaaetoa said of the defensive touchdown that made it 28-14. “When everyone is going 100 percent, that’s what is going to happen.”
Miles Conrad threw for 171 yards and four touchdowns, and running back De’Marshaun Payton rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries for am M-A team that scored 41 points before halftime.
M-A also got an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by freshman Troy Franklin and another all-around stellar performance from Spencer Corona, who caught five passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, played full time defense and also consistently put the ball through the end zone on kickoffs.
“We have a lot of guys who get a lot of attention,” M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. “I don’t feel Spencer gets enough recognition. I mean, the kid played almost every snap tonight, and he’s putting kickoffs out of the back of the end zone, is probably our best cover corner, playing free safety also, and he’s a heck of a receiver.
“Him and Troy at the opposite sides of the field are kind of a pick your poison. Those guys do a great job of working off each other and Spencer and Miles have great chemistry.”
M-A needed the offense because its defense had a rough time slowing down Los Gatos.
Robert Nelson was on target most of the night, passing for 339 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats tried to keep pace. Fordyce finished with 156 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
But it wasn’t enough for Los Gatos (1-3) to avoid a third consecutive loss.
Los Gatos found itself behind three plays into the game as Payton scored on a 41-yard run to give M-A a 7-0 lead.
But the Wildcats evened the score 7-7 and later tied it at 14-14.
They were about to square things up again in the middle of the second quarter, but the two hits forced the fumble that led to a touchdown and a 28-14 lead.
“That’s the momentum play that changed the game,” Conrad said.
Check back Saturday for video highlights from this game.
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