By Ernest Stone
Four games into the Academic Athletic Association football season, Mission’s dominating defense has been one of the premier story lines.
Following their 26-0 shutout of Lincoln (0-8, 0-4) on Friday at Kezar Stadium, the Bears (4-3, 4-0) posted their third shutout in four games and remain undefeated in league play.
“Our guys just love to hit,” said Mission head coach Joe Albano. “It’s created an overall mentality on this team and we’ve really adopted it well.”
Yet, while the Bears’ stingy defense gave up just 106 total yards of offense, their usually dependable ground game struggled throughout most of the game.
Unfortunately for Lincoln, its commitment to stopping the Bears’ ground game resulted in openings in the secondary. Taking advantage was Mission junior quarterback Davon Hargraves, who on a fourth-and-10 connected with Alec Tatum for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 6-0 first-quarter lead.
“My guys just did a good job of getting open,” said Hargraves, who connected on 5-of-11 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. “It wasn’t hard for me to do my job and find them.”
In the second quarter, an impressive run after the catch from Jaleel Stancil capped a 58-yard passing touchdown to put the Bears up 12-0, a lead they would carry into the second half.
Mission broke the game open in the third quarter, when another touchdown pass from Hargraves to Tatum pushed the lead to 20-0. A 60-yard touchdown run from Davonte Gaines just over a minute later all but sealed the win, with Mission’s defense completing yet another impressive outing.
Lincoln is still in search of its first win of the season, a feat it will look to conquer next week against Burton.
Mission, who has outscored AAA opponents 82-13 this season, faces its biggest challenge next week when its defense looks to contain Galileo’s explosive running attack in a game that will give the winner first place outright in the league.
“Washington is a team that puts up the points, but we found a way to stick around with them,” Albano said. “Hopefully we can do more of the same next week.”
M: 7:01 — Alec Tatum 14-yard pass from Davonte Hargraves (Conversion failed)
M: 8:31 — Jaleel Stancil 58-yard pass from Hargraves (Conversion failed)
M: 3:47 — Tatum 35-yard pass from Hargraves (Algeron Malbrough pass from Hargraves on conversion)
M: 2:21 — Davonte Gaines 60-yard run (Conversion failed)