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Acalanes staved off a heroic effort to begin the 2021 spring football season.
After 16 months of waiting to get back on the gridiron, the No. 23 Acalanes Dons (1-0) squeaked out a thrilling 33-27 victory over the undermanned No. 14 Monte Vista Mustangs (0-1) on Saturday evening.
“I thought both teams played pretty well,” said Acalanes head coach Floyd Burnsed. “We looked like we had a lot of jitters there. We put the ball on the ground. We had a lot of holding calls on big plays that really took us out of a lot of what we were doing.”
The Dons came out firing early.
Senior quarterback Brady Huchingson connected with junior Will Berrien for a 33-yard score to open the festivities, giving Acalanes a quick 7-0 lead. Just a few plays later, Hutchinson found junior Dante Montgomery for a 55-yard score, making it a 13-0 ballgame and giving Acalanes 13 points and 114 yards through the first six plays.
But Monte Vista, despite having a little over 20 players, weathered the storm and provided one of the most resilient efforts possible.
Monte Vista senior running back Gavin Cribb capped a long drive with a 19-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 13-7, followed by a trick pass from Cribb to senior Josh Zeising – typically a linebacker who amassed 102 tackles last year – to take a 14-13 lead before Acalanes took the lead for good.
Montgomery scored on a 68-yard score that made it a 19-14 Acalanes lead midway through the second quarter, and then Huchingson had another touchdown strike, this time to junior Evan Malmquist for Malmquist’s first career score, to end the half at 27-14.
“He’s about the quickest guy I know out here,” Huchingson said of Montgomery. “He really showed it. Made those plays. It was mostly all him. That little reverse play he made about four guys miss and took it all the way to the house, and that other one I only threw it like 10 yards, and he ran it the rest of the way and showed everyone how fast he is and what he can do.”
Yet, again, just like Monte Vista did all evening, it came back in a hurry.
After Acalanes took a 33-14 lead, Monte Vista scored 13 straight points and put itself in a position to win the game at the end – all of which came in a wild fourth quarter.
Junior Rocco Schramm scored his first career varsity touchdown with 11:51 remaining, trimming the Acalanes lead to 33-20.
Cribb later scored with 3:57 remaining and made it a 33-27 game, and Monte Vista’s defense made some crucial stops down the stretch to put itself in a position to win.
Acalanes fumbled at midfield, but Monte Vista couldn’t convert later on fourth down and 12 yards to go. And, after Acalanes was stuffed and forced to punt with just under a minute remaining, Monte Vista didn’t have enough time to drive 90 yards and complete the valiant comeback.
“They played awesome,” Burnsed said. “They’re going both ways a lot of them. Some of them were cramping and they still came back. No. 36, the running back (Cribb), he’s a warrior. I couldn’t believe he stayed on the field as long as he did.”
Huchingson and the Acalanes passing attack shined, as Huchingson – coming off 2,646 yards, 29 touchdowns and five picks as a junior – completed 18 of 26 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Seven different Dons caught a pass, led by Montgomery’s 68 yards and a touchdown on two catches, which tagged alongside his 68-yard scoring run.
Malmquist followed suit with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Berrien had four snags for 64 yards. Senior Sam Heyman was close by with four catches for 39 yards.
“Our receivers, they might be young, but they’re super talented and they know what they’re doing out there,” Huchingson said. “They’re all making plays all the time.”
Rossi finished with a team-high 86 yards on 11 carries in the Dons’ ground attack.
Cribb provided a sensational effort to lead Monte Vista’s offense, carrying the ball 29 times while totaling 231 yards and two scores on the ground, which was next to his passing touchdown and 36 receiving yards.
Monte Vista junior tight end Jack Endries – who recently brought in a Fresno State offer – tallied 40 yards on four catches. Zeising had 31 yards and a score on two grabs. Schramm finished with 26 receiving yards and 47 rushing yards.
Everyone played a role for the Mustangs to nearly pull out a top 25 Bay Area road win despite missing more than half of the roster.
“They played a great game, especially with that factoring in,” Huchingson said. “They had to work really hard to do what they did with 20 kids and a ton of kids going both ways the whole game.”
Acalanes returns to action at 7 p.m. March 20 against Las Lomas, while Monte Vista looks for its first win of the season in a 7 p.m. affair March 20 at De La Salle.
“We’re going to try and improve a lot,” Huchingson said. “Our whole team felt like we got a little sloppy at the end there, so we’re going to try and improve and make sure we stay tight the whole game and make plays the whole game.”
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Passing: Brady Huchingson – 18-of-26, 261 yards, 4 TD.
Rushing: Nic Rossi – 11 carries, 86 yards. Dante Montgomery – 1 carry, 68 yards, TD.
Brady Huchingson – 11 carries, 42 yards.
Receiving: Dante Montgomery – 2 catches, 68 yards, TD. Evan Malmquist – 4 catches, 67 yards, TD. Will Berrien – 4 catches, 64 yards. Sam Heyman – 4 catches, 39 yards. Joe Evans – 1 catch, 13 yards, TD. Devin Miniello – 1 catch, 8 yards.
Passing: Dyllan Devitt – 12-for-24, 100 yards. Gavin Cribb – 1-for-1, 18 yards, TD.
Rushing: Gavin Cribb – 29 carries, 231 yards, 2 TD. Rocco Schramm – 8 carries, 47 yards, TD. Jack Endries – 1 carry, 3 yards.
Receiving: Jack Endries – 4 catches, 40 yards. Gavin Cribb – 4 catches, 36 yards. Josh Zeising – 2 catches, 31 yards, TD. Rocco Schramm – 4 catches, 26 yards.
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