By Matthew Snyder
Mission High School’s football team overcame four turnovers and weathered a furious third-quarter comeback by Galileo to emerge with a 39-20 Academic Athletic Association road victory on Friday afternoon.
The Lions (1-3-1, 0-1-0) forced Mission quarterback Antoine Porter to throw three interceptions, but the senior also scored four touchdowns (two rushing and two passing).
“It was a good win. [It was] a little sloppy, but I’ll take it,” said Mission head coach Joe Albano. “We can score when we need to. We’re just our own worst enemy, whether it’s penalties, fumbles or something that we do to ourselves.”
Porter threw for 203 yards on 9-of-18 passing and rushed for an additional 122 yards on 18 carries, but Galileo only trailed 25-20 heading into the fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter touchdown runs from Porter and junior running back Dreon McElroy put the game away.
“We came out strong, but in the second half, we let up a little bit and that allowed [Galileo] to rack up some touchdowns,” Porter said. “But I felt that our defense picked it up as the game progressed and we closed it out.”
Mission (3-2, 2-0) picked up 186 total yards on the ground without standout running back Armani McFarland, who missed the game with a broken hand.
“[Not having McFarland] hurt a little bit during the week, but some of the guys stepped up really well, and we have some good backups at running back who did a pretty good job today,” Albano said.
Along with 20 yards on four carries, Mission running back Matthew Yee excelled as a blocker in the Bears’ rushing scheme, frequently laying superb blocks for Porter. Lee also had a sack on defense, and Roy Sauceda, who also filled in for McFarland, rushed for 41 yards on four carries.
Powerful junior running back Ronzel Fox, not yet fully recovered from a sprained ankle suffered against De Anza on Sept. 14, paced the Lions’ running game with 140 yards on 12 carries. Galileo head coach Mark Huynh said Fox, who only played a half in Galileo’s last game against Kennedy and sat out practice this week, was at “85 percent” against Mission.
He certainly looked at full strength when he took a last-gasp pitch from quarterback Kyle Nelson (127 yards on 12-of-21 passing) deep in the Lions’ end zone and barreled 99 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. In addition to his two touchdowns on the ground, Fox also had four catches for 69 yards, including a 62-yard gain during the crucial third quarter.
Galileo coped without Fox’s partner in the backfield, fellow junior running back Dontell Jackson, after Jackson suffered a shoulder injury from a block in the first half that knocked him out for the rest of the game.
Senior Mission wide receivers/defensive backs Demitrius Thibeaux and Alex Tico starred on both sides of the ball, and twice helped stem mounting Galileo momentum. Thibeaux caught two passes for 59 yards and Tico had five receptions for 114, but it was a pair of spectacular plays on the defensive side of the ball that proved the biggest difference.
Thibeaux returned a first-quarter interception 24 yards for a touchdown to give Mission a 13-0 lead and Tico quashed any hopes for a Lions win in the fourth quarter, when he lept highest to pick off Nelson’s downfield pass and returned the ball 54 yards to the Galileo 8-yard line.
M: 3:41 – Demitrius Thibeaux 39-yard pass from Antoine Porter (kick failed)
M: 3:29 – Alex Tico 24-yard interception return (Dreon McElroy kick)
G: 9:00 – Ronzel Fox 99-yard run (Yanek Hakobyan kick)
M: 0:20 – Porter 3-yard run (kick failed)
G: 7:17 – Fox 3-yard run (Hakobyan kick)
M: 4:02 – Tico 34-yard pass from Porter (kick failed)
G: 1:37 – Todd Holland 5-yard pass from Kyle Nelson (conversion failed)
M: 9:31 – Porter 2-yard run (conversion failed)
M: 3:32 – McElroy 3-yard run (McElroy pass from Reneil Isaac on conversion)