On Friday night, the football team was able to pull away from the Hillsdale Knights in the second half to advance to the second round of CCS playoffs, by a final score of 49-37.
The Knights started with the ball and quickly converted a long third down for 40 yards to keep the M-A defense on the field. Shortly after, Hillsdale took a 7-0 lead on a short run. The Bears offense started off just as hot, as senior running back Jordan Masuisui ran the M-A offense all the way down the field and scored his first touchdown of the night, leveling the score at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The M-A offense got back onto the field after an intentional grounding call on Hillsdale, and Masuisui got right back to work. Multiple long runs got the Bears into scoring territory, and Mausuisui walked into the endzone for his second touchdown.
Hillsdale was forced to punt on their ensuing drive, but a fumble by the Bears’ returner put the Knights in prime position to score. They wasted no time and executed a brilliant play-action pass for a touchdown to tie the score at 14.
Both teams struggled defensively all game, and the Knights’ defense had no answer for the Bears run game the entire night. As the second quarter wound down, the Bears’ offense drove right down the field once again for a third Masuisui touchdown in the first half; he totaled 177 rushing yards throughout the game. Right before the half, the Hillsdale quarterback broke off a 50-yard run to set up the Knights for a touchdown, making the score 21-21 at the break.
Senior offensive lineman Aidan Anguiano talked about halftime adjustments for M-A and said, “We began to trust each other more, started to lean on each other and the coaches more and were just able to execute better together.”
The second half started with a bang for the Bears’ offense as sophomore quarterback Teddy Dacey found senior wide receiver Alek Marshall for a 70-yard touchdown on the second play of the third quarter. M-A capitalized on the momentum with a surprise onside kick by senior kicker Aiden Mulcahey to give the Bears the ball right back.
The risk paid off immediately for M-A as Dacey threw his second touchdown of the night to senior wide receiver Aaron Becker, who was also celebrating his eighteenth birthday that night. Becker later said, “It was such an incredible feeling to catch a touchdown today especially. I just started screaming, I didn’t even know what else to do, it was just such a surreal moment.”
Senior linebacker Colin Kuriger followed up Becker’s touchdown with an interception returned for a touchdown on the next Hillsdale drive. The miscues continued for the Knights as their quarterback fumbled on the next drive, which led to an easy touchdown for sophomore running back Eva Ama, extending the M-A lead to 28.
The Knights refused to go down without a fight though, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion at the start of the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 20. They then recovered an onside kick but were stopped by the Bears’ defense.
Late in the game, the Knights grabbed another touchdown and a second two-point conversion to make the score 49-37 in favor of M-A as time expired.
Senior safety James Gray said, “We are obviously very happy about the win and will celebrate tonight, but we have to start looking towards next week. Every game could be the last, so we have to be extra prepared.”
The Bears will return to Coach Parks Field this Friday night to take on the Palma Chieftains at 7 p.m.