The Mountain View High football team dominated everything but the scoreboard in Friday’s Homecoming game against Santa Clara.
The Spartans fell 6-0, despite thoroughly outgaining the Bruins (310 yards to 173) and making nearly three times as many first downs (14 to five).
The Mountain View defense turned in its best performance of the season, forcing a turnover and seven punts while limiting Santa Clara to just four plays of more than nine yards. But one of those plays proved to be the game-winner – an 82-yard touchdown run by halfback Adam Garza early in the second quarter (the PAT failed).
Offensively, the Spartans seemed to stop themselves as many times as the Bruin defense did. Mountain View failed to capitalize on two trips to the red zone – turning the ball over on downs at the 4 on its opening drive and throwing an interception at the 18 in the closing minutes – and had a 60-yard touchdown pass called back on a penalty midway through the fourth quarter.
“That’s the story of our year,” coach Shelley Smith said of squandering opportunities, which included reaching Santa Clara’s 26 before taking back-to-back sacks and twice turning the ball over on downs at the Bruins’ 30. “That’s what happens when you have an inexperienced team – we’re going to do this.”
Smith noted that for the third game in a row, his Spartans marched inside their opponent’s 5-yard line on their initial drive and stalled. Mountain View moved from its 20 to Santa Clara’s 4 in nine plays, highlighted by quarterback Anthony Avery’s 48-yard bomb to streaking receiver Austin Johnson. Avery then overthrew tight end Frank Kapp in the end zone on third down and the Bruins got the ball back after stuffing Johnson for a 1-yard loss.
Mountain View’s first possession of the second half got off to a promising start as well. Beginning at their own 20, the Spartans drove to Santa Clara’s 26 with eight straight runs – including Avery’s 3-yard keeper on 4th-and-1 – followed by a 25-yard pass to Kapp. The Bruins sacked Avery the next two plays, however, pushing Mountain View out of scoring position.
After stalling at Santa Clara’s 30 on their next series – an 11-play drive that consumed nearly the first five minutes of the fourth quarter – the Spartans were running out of time and chances.
Mountain View got the ball back with 4:20 left, thanks to a defense that held Santa Clara to only 27 yards in the half.
“Our defense has improved dramatically over the last two weeks,” said Smith, whose Spartans surrendered only a single touchdown for the second consecutive week.
Mountain View appeared to be on its way to a second straight win when Avery threw a 60-yard strike to Johnson for a touchdown with just under four minutes remaining. The play came back, though, thanks to a flag on the Spartans for having an illegal man downfield.
“We got robbed on that call – nothing was wrong on our end,” Smith said. “It was a perfect play and a perfectly thrown ball, and we don’t have those very often. To have to a redo on something like that is kind of tough.”
Avery kept the drive alive, however, completing a pair of 20-plus-yard passes to Kapp and a 7-yarder to receiver Nico Mayoral that put Mountain View at the 18. But Avery was intercepted on the next play, a pass tipped by halfback Isaiah Jackson that landed in the arms of defensive back Alexander Rios with 1:49 to play.
The Spartans would get one last chance. Santa Clara quarterback Antonio Nazario fumbled a minute later, and Mountain View linebacker Brandon Pak recovered the ball near midfield. Avery threw an interception on the next play, however, and Santa Clara ran out the clock.
Although the Spartans sank to 1-4 overall (1-1 in the SCVAL De Anza Division), Smith isn’t giving up on the season.
“We’re getting better. From the first game we played to this game, there’s been a big improvement,” he said. “I think our kids are playing well enough that maybe we can surprise somebody.”
2013 MVHS Homecoming: Football - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
For MVHS Homecoming Court and Homecoming Parade photos, click here.