Photo credits to Bob Dahlberg
M-A spoiled the Mountain View Spartan’s senior night in dominant fashion with a 33-14 comeback victory on Thursday night, reviving team spirits after star quarterback Xander Eschelman’s season-ending injury.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Dacey stepped up from his role on the Junior Varsity team, filling Eschelman’s vacancy and delivering with confidence far beyond his years. This, alongside an unstoppable run game and lockdown defense, propelled the Bears to a blowout in the second half.
Fans anxiously watched the M-A offense line up for its first snap, awaiting the first signs of the offense under new leadership. Dacey didn’t give them much time to worry, however, connecting on his first pass to junior wide receiver Angelo Marin behind the line of scrimmage, setting him up for a nine-yard gain. Senior running back Jordan Masuisui followed up this first successful play with several large gains that would push the Bears into Spartan territory before a holding penalty called against M-A reversed their advance.
On the resulting third and 17, Dacey stepped up and delivered under the pressure. He placed a perfect pass just above the outstretched arms of a Mountain View cornerback and into the hands of senior tight end Alek Marshall, pushing the Bears 30 yards upfield. Masuisui then pushed the offense into the red zone as M-A’s offensive line continued to open up gaps for him, inching closer and closer to the end zone. However, Dacey’s first drive as the leader of M-A’s offense would fizzle out on the six-yard line, just shy of their first points of the game.
Dacey took the Spartan’s defense by surprise in his second drive, showing off his wheels as he scrambled on a possession-saving first down and connected with Marin on another perfectly-placed pass. He turned and closed 15 yards to the endzone, tying the game 7-7 halfway through the second quarter.
Coach Chris Saunders praised Dacey’s performance after the game, stating, “Teddy Dacey did an excellent job at quarterback tonight. There wasn’t a ton of adjustment because he was in. He is a very good football player and he played very well tonight. ”
Marshall, who connected with Dacey for two impressive receptions, said, “I think [Dacey] really stepped up. Obviously, Xander is a great quarterback, and it was super unfortunate he got injured, but I just think our quarterback room is so deep; both of them can play so well, and for a second, I just didn’t think [Dacey] was a sophomore quarterback because he was so comfortable with how he was playing.”
Dacey’s first mistake would come on his third drive, an interception in the endzone putting a damper on an otherwise flawless performance.
Desperate to shut down a last-minute rally that would put the Spartans two possessions ahead of the Bears, the M-A defense continued to pressure the pocket, but the Mountain View offense connected on chunk plays, placing them on the 28-yard line with 30 seconds remaining in the half.
Within field goal range, it seemed almost inevitable that the Spartans would score, but a missed opportunity for the offense tipped fortune in favor of the Bears as a would-be touchdown pass slipped through the fingers of a Spartan receiver. The M-A defensive line delivered in a crucial play, pushing past the offensive line and forcing the Spartan quarterback out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage, and the Spartans 57-yard field goal attempt fell just short to keep the score 14-7 Spartans.
The second half opened up with a quick 11-yard run by Masuisui and an incredible throw off the back shoulder of Marshall, who hauled in the catch over double coverage, putting the Bears midfield. The Bears enjoyed a quick first touchdown of the second half as they tied the game in less than four minutes of play.
As the second half wore on, the M-A defense shined under the Thursday night lights, racking up multiple tackles for loss and pressures that suffocated the Spartan offense. M-A’s secondary locked down the Spartan receiving corp as pass after pass slipped past Spartan receivers. Playing a full four quarters, they limited the Spartans to a scoreless second half.
A highlight reel fleaflicker play that placed the ball into the hands of senior tight end Owen Van Loben Sels and a dominant run game defined the Bears’ second half. Up two possessions in the fourth, the Bears offense fed the ball to junior running backs Evaimalo Ama and Masuisui who continued to punch through holes created by the offensive line for a total of 316 rushing yards.. As the clock timed out, the Bears celebrated a season-renewing 33-14 win.
The Bears will look to build on this win at home next Friday against the Burlingame Panthers.