Gators Eat Bears for First Time in Eight Years

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Photo credits to Bob Dahlberg and Noah Eisner

On Saturday afternoon, M-A lost to cross-town rivals Sacred Heart Prep 34-14, the first lost to the Gators since 2014.

On the first drive of the game the Bears got off to a strong start by driving all the way to the Sacred Heart 20 yard line, before senior running back Sherrod Smith fumbled, which was quickly pounced on by Sacred Heart. Sacred Heart wasn’t able to take advantage of the mistake, however, with M-A getting a big stop on 4th and 7 on the Gator’s 42 yard line.

Bear’s captains lineup for the coin toss

The Bears were able to take advantage of the good field position this time. Relying on the run to advance the ball but scoring thanks to a 10-yard pass from senior quarterback Billy Johnson to senior wide receiver Jayden Moss, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead.

The Bears were then able to force a punt on their ensuing defensive drive, then quickly advanced the ball up the field with nice runs by Smith and junior running back Jordan Masuisui. Smith broke away for a touchdown, but the play was called back because of an MA holding, leaving the Bears up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. 

The second quarter started with stalemated offenses unable to find an advantage, but the Gators finally found a breakthrough later in the second quarter. A quarterback run from the Gators around the edge of the M-A defense leveled the score at 7-7. 

M-A wasn’t able to do anything offensively going 3 and out on the next drive and giving the ball back to the Gators with 2:30 left in the half. Sacred Heart then shocked the Bears defense with a quick slant over the middle that was completed and taken 72 yards to put the Gators up 14-7. Junior linebacker Jack Kryger later stated, “We had a good game plan that we practiced all week, we just were not able to execute it in the game.”

Things only went downhill from here for the Bears. On the ensuing kickoff M-A muffed the kickoff giving the ball right back to Sacred Heart on the M-A 37 yard-line. The Gators took advantage of the error and scored with under a minute in the half, increasing their lead to 14 points going into the half. 

Junior linebacker Owen van Loben Sels said after the game, “I think we all need to do better. Our quarterbacks, our line, our receivers, and our defense. We need to stop hesitating and making mistakes.”

The Gators received the ball to begin the second half and capitalized on their momentum, scoring yet another TD, making the score 28-7.

M-A chose to start senior quarterback Colton Assunto in the second half, which gave the offense a spark when they got the ball back. The Bears drove down 50 yards and capped off the drive with a Smith touchdown, making the score 28-14.

Assunto in mid-throw

The fourth quarter started slow for both teams, but the Bears got the ball back with 6:38 left in the game, and started a promising drive upfield. However, on a pass to junior tight end Alek Marshall, a Gator cornerback jumped the route, intercepted the ball and took it to the end-zone for the touchdown, making the game 35-14, ending any chance the Bears had at getting back in the game.  

Junior cornerback James Gray said after the game, “I think we are going to bounce back next week because we are going to bring more intensity and focus in practice.”

Kryger also added, “I am still proud of this team because we kept fighting the whole game despite being down and that speaks to our character.”

The Bears play the Los Gatos Wildcats on senior night this coming Friday at 7:00 for the last regular season game. 

Finn Papenfus is a senior at M-A. He looks forward to writing about sports, politics and other stories. Finn plays golf and watches football in his free time.

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