Photo credits to Jeff Chapman and Patrick Lam
In their first home Friday Night Lights game of the season, the football team pulled out a dominant 21-0 victory over the Palo Alto (Paly) Vikings. The win put the Bears’ season back on track and was a massive confidence boost for M-A. As senior defensive end Khayri Jett put it, “This game definitely puts us in a good position with confidence, but we have to stay humble. We know that the job is not done.”
Palo Alto started with the ball and immediately connected on two long throws to get into M-A territory. With the defense on their heels, the Vikings boldly decided to go for it on fourth down, but the Bears got to the quarterback and forced the early turnover on downs. M-A took over on offense and immediately started to feed senior running back Jordan Masuisui. Masuisui was a key factor on the team last year, but missed the first four games of this season. The M-A offense drove right down the field thanks to a big screen play by junior wide receiver Angelo Marin and capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run by Masuisui, putting the Bears up 7-0.
When asked about how it felt to be back on the field, Masuisui said, “It felt really good to be back out there. I was anxious to return, but when I got in the game I felt very calm and excited.”
The M-A defense forced a quick punt on Paly’s next drive and got the M-A offense the ball right back. Unfortunately, the Bears’ second drive ended in an interception thrown by junior quarterback Xander Eschelman. Eschelman miraculously avoided a sack, but the Vikings took away his attempt at a shovel pass forward. The first quarter ended with M-A leading 7-0.
The second quarter started with Paly getting stopped on another fourth down. The M-A defense was stellar all game and came up with multiple game-changing plays when they needed it most. Senior safety James Gray said, “It felt great for the defense to bounce back from last week and play at as high of a level as we know we can.”
The Bears wasted no time once they got the ball back. Eschelman connected with senior wide receiver Alek Marshall on a 40-yard touchdown pass, extending the M-A lead to 14 points. M-A then sprung a surprise onside kick to try and get the ball back. The Bears recovered it but were penalized for touching the ball too early and the Vikings gained possession. With only a few minutes left in the half, the Bears sacked the Paly quarterback, and the Vikings decided to take a knee into halftime trailing by 14.
The second half started with the Bears driving down the field on offense. After multiple successful completions, Eschelman decided to scramble and fumbled the ball on the Paly 30-yard line. The Vikings took over possession, looking to swing the momentum. Despite the turnover, the Bears’ defense dashed the spirits of Paly as they sacked the quarterback again forced an immediate punt.
Finally, on M-A’s ensuing possession, Eschelman found Marshall on another touchdown pass in the back corner of the endzone. The catch made the score 21-0 and put the game out of reach for the Vikings as the third quarter came to a close.
Despite being up big, the Bears’ defense did not give up. After an interception thrown by M-A junior quarterback William Roberts, the Vikings had a chance to score a moral victory late in the game. With the ball down at the M-A two-yard line with only seconds left, the Bears broke into the backfield and planted the Paly quarterback as time expired, stamping a dominant defensive performance.
Marshall later said, “Overall it was a great game, we improved on a lot from last week, and I think it was a super important win heading into the bye week and league games.”
After a bye this coming weekend, the Bears will return to the field on Friday, October 6 at 7 pm to play the Wilcox Chargers.