ATHERTON – The Menlo Express continues to run.
Menlo greeted its Central Coast Section Division II opponent in the first round, Half Moon Bay, in the same way it greeted many of its former opponents – with touchdowns and many of them. The undefeated Knights reached the zone four times in a row in the first half and ended the hot day with a 47-28 victory.
“Our kids got ready to play and the plan was right,” Menlo coach Todd Smith said. “They have a great group over there.
“We are still undefeated. Now we move on to next week.”
The next stop for the No. 4 seed Menlo (11-0) is an away game against No. 1 San Benito (9-1) on Friday night at. 19.00 in the Division II semifinals.
Menlo showed his intentions early Saturday against No. 5 seed Half Moon Bay (5-5). Knights quarterback Sergio Beltran passed two of his team’s first offensive play, then on the fourth down, a false punt resulted in a six-yard pass from player Ross Muchnick to Bob Enright for a first try. Six plays later, Beltran joined Carter Jung for a 39-yard touchdown and the lead forever.
“MA has a similar style of play; we saw how they line up a lot, ”said Menlo quarterback Sergio Beltran about Menlo-Atherton’s 47-46 victory over Half Moon Bay earlier in the season. “We knew we would take shots early, like double pulls, deep shots and set the tone.”
Half Moon Bay equalized to 7 on a 27-yard run by quarterback William Moffitt and a point-after-touchdown kick by Julian Jimenez. But Beltran found Jung again in the red zone for a nine-yard touchdown and the lead to stay at 13-7 in the first quarter.
Menlos Alec Jabal immediately threw on an onside kick, and in the first game of the second quarter, Beltran reached the end zone on a 3-yard run. A two-point conversion pass from Beltran to Jung gave Menlo a 21-7 advantage. In the next Menlo series, Beltran teamed up with Bob Enright for a 26-yard score and a three-touchdown lead in the second quarter. Enright had six receptions in 63 yards in the game.
Beltran and Jung joined another touchdown, a 70-yard bomb in the fourth quarter of Beltran’s last offensive game of the game with 9 minutes and 56 seconds left. Beltran had a hand in six of Menlo’s seven touchdowns (four passes, two runs). The senior finished with a game-high 148 yards rushing and 12 completions in 20 passing attempts at 215 yards. Jung had six of those receptions at 134 yards. Jung also blocked a point-after-touchdown kick on special teams.
“They performed well,” longtime Half Moon Bay coach Keith Holden said. “We thought we would keep it close. I thought it would be an exciting match and I thought it would come down to the last game. I thought we prepared well and gave ourselves the opportunity to To prepare. To prepare well and perform well are two different things: we prepared well and we did not execute well, and they did.
“Todd has done a great job with them. I told him that in my opinion it’s the best Menlo team I’ve ever seen and they’ve had some good ones.”
Half Moon Bay went into the break with some momentum as Moffitt produced the second of his three touchdowns on the ground with a three-yard run and passed 49 yards on the Cougars’ next series before time ran out. The senior finished with a team-high 92 yards rushing and 210 yards passing.
But Menlo regained momentum on kickoff in the second half as Ty Richardson scored on an 87-yard return and the final victory score. Half Moon Bay advanced 80 yards on its next series and reached the end zone on an 11-yard run by Moffitt, but 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, Beltran ran up the middle for a four-yard touchdown and a 41-20 Menlo lead. The bomb from Beltran to Jung was the game’s final touchdown for the Knights, and Half Moon Bay ended the match scoring with a 1-yard run by Emilio Villalobos and a two-point conversion from Moffitt to Kai Zanette.
Menlo’s defense was opportunistic: Tyler Flynn recovered a fumble in the first quarter, and Sam Scola and Chris Liao snatched interceptions in the fourth quarter.
For Half Moon Bay, PJ Modena had six receptions at 68 yards and Zanette added four catches at 75 yards. Cougars’ Sam Lowings blocked two PAT attempts.
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