December 18, 2010

Palo Alto pulls stunner over Centennial

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Was it because it was disheveled after arriving to the stadium exceptionally late due to traffic and accidents on the highway?

Or was it the weather, which left the field at Home Depot Center in Carson a soggy, squishy mess as rain continued to fall intermittingly throughout the game?

Or dare we say it could it have been because it wasn't playing in the bowl game that it really wanted to be playing in?

Maybe it wasn't that difficult at all. Maybe Palo Alto (Calif.) High simply was, in fact, the better team.

No matter the reason, Palo Alto was able to take advantage of a multitude of miscues by Corona (Calif.) Centennial to upset the nationally-ranked No. 13 team in the CIF Division I Bowl on Friday night, 15-13.

"These are the greatest young men we've ever had at Palo," head coach Earl Hansen told reporters after receiving his school's first-ever state football championship trophy. "They played great and never quit."

Centennial kicker Ezequiel Rivera had a chance to win the game on a 42-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining but the kick was wobbly and short.

Palo Alto's defense, on the other hand, stood tall. It stopped Centennial not once but twice on fourth and goal opportunities in the game - once in the first half and once in the second half when it appeared Centennial had regained some momentum.

But its biggest stop came with 4:14 remaining in the game.

After Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank broke free for a 33-yard touchdown run to bring the Huskies within 15-13, the team elected to go for two and the tie.

Eubank kept the ball himself and - as it had done both previous times Centennial reached inside the 5-yard line - the Palo Alto defense stuffed the quarterback well short of the goal line to preserve its lead.

"This is unbelievable for us," said quarterback Christoph Bono, the son of former NFL quarterback Steve Bono. "Anything can happen on any given day. But I have to give it to our defense. They stopped one of the best offenses in the country tonight."

And if the Palo defense wasn't stopping it, Centennial was stopping itself.

The game got off to an auspicious start for Centennial, which turned the ball over on its first possession and then had a snap sail over Eubank's head on its second possession into the end zone, which Eubank fell on top of for a safety.

Penalties added up for Centennial as well, as the team was flagged 11 times for 112 yards in the game, including a false start penalty on the team's final drive that pushed a long third down attempt into an even longer third down, setting up the ill-fated field goal attempt.

"The difference is the amount of mistakes we made," Eubank told reporters after the game. "We made too many mistakes in the first half."

So many mistakes, in fact, that the Huskies didn't score a point in the first half, trailing 15-0. A stunning turn of events for a team that had put up the most prolific numbers in California high school football history this season.

But Eubank put the team on his legs - literally - midway through the third quarter, as he broke free for a 75-yard run that set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Romello Goodman, to make the score 15-7.

Palo Alto scored twice in the second quarter, both on passing plays. Davante Adams caught an 11-yarder near the backline for the 9-0 lead, while Bono connected with Maurice Williams on an 80-yard touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half.

The Vikings were held scoreless in the second half, but it didn't matter as its defense really stole the show.

"These guys followed their assignments and played their assignments," Hansen said. "They were unbelievable today."

For complete coverage of Northern California football, visit NorCalPreps.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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