By Bonta Hill
ATHERTON — Those wearing brown and yellow felt this was a game they let slip and get away. Across the field on the other sideline, the team in blue and yellow exhaled, feeling fortunate to be victorious.
Mission High School was its own worst enemy Friday afternoon on the road against Menlo School, falling to the Knights 16-12.
Down by four points with time winding down, Mission quarterback Davon Hargraves drove the Bears 56 yards to the Menlo 10-yard line with three seconds left, but his intended pass to senior Algeron Malbrough fell short as time expired.
“[It was a] typical second game of the season, as we [had] some turnovers [and] penalties that killed some drives,” said Mission head Joe Albano. “We had an opportunity to win the game, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Menlo head coach Mark Newton was just hoping his team could hold on after trailing the Bears (1-1) 12-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
“I was just hoping we had enough in the tank to hold on,” Newton said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but the kids prevailed.”
Three Mission turnovers resulted in 13 Menlo (2-0) points, but the Bears still were in contention throughout.
Down 10-0 late in the second quarter, Mission finally got into a rhythm on offense with their main playmakers Hargraves and Antoine Porter at the forefront of the action.
With the Bears on their own 43-yard line, Porter, playing quarterback due to an injury to Hargraves, hit Malbrough with a 19-yard pass. Then moments later, with Hargraves back under center, he connected with Porter for a 20-yard touchdown, in which Porter out-leaped two Menlo defenders in front of the right pylon, to cut the lead to 10-6.
“They’ve got a lot of great athletes over there and they should do well in the City this year,” Newton said. “After watching film on them, we knew they were a solid team.”
After Mission took a 12-10 lead late in the third quarter, Menlo tried to answer back, as quarterback Matt Bradley connected on a 22-yard pass to Tommy Ford on Fourth-and-21 to the Mission 5-yard line.
But Mission’s defense stiffened up, and stopped the Knights, shifting the momentum back on their side.
The ensuing drive was one the Bears will probably regret the most.
Albano chose to gamble on Fourth-and-2 from the Mission 29-yard line, and Hargraves fumbled the snap. The next play, Menlo took the lead as backup quarterback Jack Heneghan hit Ford for a 30-yard touchdown.
“I kind of got talked into it by the kids, but we fumbled the snap,” Albano said. “We want the kids to be a part of this as much as possible, but unfortunately the gamble didn’t work.”
Menlo’s defense contained Mission from the big plays they had last week against Tomales, as the Bears totaled just 126 yards rushing on thirty carries. Hargroves finished with 139 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 7-of-15 passing.
Still, this is a game the Bears knew was winnable.
“I think we scared them a little bit over there for sure,” Albano said. “We just have to clean some stuff up and get ready for Drake next week, and then get ready to go attack the [AAA].”
Menlo: 6:43 — Tim Costa 36-yard field goal
Menlo: 3:28 — Conner Stastney 15-yard pass from Jack Heneghan (Costa kick good)
Mission: 0:30 — Antoine Porter 20-yard pass from Davon Hargraves (conversion failed)
Mission: 3:27 — Oscar Campos 24-yard pass from Hargraves (conversion failed)
Menlo: 6:51 — Tommy Ford 30-yard pass from Heneghan (kick failed)