On Friday, first-place Menlo Atherton (6-2 overall, 4-0 Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division) prevailed over Aragon (5-3 overall, 1-2 PAL Bay) 48-35, stopping the Dons short of a miraculous fourth-quarter comeback.
Aragon was simply outmatched in the first half, and had little to show for its efforts in the first 24 minutes outside of a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back and defensive back Siua Tongamoa.
“After they started getting momentum, we kind of shut down,” says junior quarterback Gabe Campos. “And that’s what killed us.”
The second quarter was among the worst for the Dons all year. After a 22-yard completion from junior quarterback Gabe Campos to Sandoval, the team lost its focus and consequently fell even more behind than before. The next play featured an errant snap, resulting in a 16-yard loss. After a 21-yard pass on third-and-5 to Sandoval, the Don’s lined up for a field goal, but the ball was dropped by the holder, forcing senior kicker Dakota Severson out of his rhythm, preventing the kick from even reaching the back of the end zone.
“It was mental mistakes,” says Sandoval on the why his team was unable to pull out a win on Friday. “They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves.”
After going into halftime down 7-27, the Dons finally found their edge, and played the rest of the game with energy that was not apparent during the first two quarters.
“When we were in the locker room, [head coach Steve Sell] said to never give up, and to just play with heart, and just play for us” says senior wide receiver and defensive back Anthony Sandoval.
In the last 11 minutes of the final quarter, the Dons scored three times, capped by a 42-yard interception returned for a touchdown by junior wide receiver and defensive back Donaven Robinson.
Due to the poor first half, the Dons were forced to play catch-up in the final two quarters, an idea relatively unfamiliar to the team, as their only other big loss came at the hands of Aptos, when they fell 49-21.
If they are to have a successful postseason, the Dons will have to make a quick turn-around. Sitting in fourth-place in the PAL Bay Division, Aragon’s final two matchups will be home games against higher-ranked teams. Next Friday, they are set to host Burlingame (5-3 overall, 3-1 PAL Bay) before taking on Hillsdale (4-4 overall, 1-2 PAL Bay) in the annual Homecoming Game.