The first sign of trouble for the Los Altos High football team came on the first play from scrimmage in Friday’s home game against Monta Vista.
William Major ripped off 29 yards on a sweep to the left, one of several long runs by the Matadors in their 35-14 rout of the Eagles.
“Our worst fear came true – that they were going to run all over us,” said coach Trevor Pruitt, whose team dropped to 1-2 in the SCVAL El Camino Division and out of title contention. “We planned and worked hard all week to stop the run – and on blitz pickup – and it was just a breakdown by the Eagles.”
Los Altos surrendered 412 yards on the ground to first-place Monta Vista, which averaged nearly 9 yards per carry. Major (118 yards) and backfield mate Justin Cena (211 yards) did most of the damage. Cena scored a pair of touchdowns, the first a 94-yard burst late in the opening quarter.
“Our plan was to stop No. 20,” Pruitt said of Cena, who came in with more than 1,000 yards rushing, “and we didn’t execute as well as we wanted to today.”
The Matadors scored touchdowns on their first three possessions – without throwing a pass – to lead 21-0 with nearly nine minutes left in the opening half.
But they went nowhere on their next drive, a three-and-out series that ended with a punt partially blocked by Patrick McColl.
Starting from Monta Vista’s 29-yard-line, Los Altos scored seven plays later on Lambie Lanman’s 4-yard quarterback keeper. Matt Schroner’s PAT made it 21-7 with 1:35 remaining in the half.
Los Altos had chances to cut into the lead even more – possessing the ball four times before the Matadors scored again – but came away empty each time.
The first opportunity came after Monta Vista fumbled near midfield, but the Eagles had little time left (38 seconds before the half) and mustered only an 8-yard pass from Lanman to Victor Ruiz.
Los Altos’ first two drives of the second half ended with Lanman interceptions, both by defensive back Max McCann.
Cena fumbled after the second pick, and linebacker Carlos Rivera-Salis recovered at Los Altos’ 40. But after Lanman completed consecutive passes – including a 40-yard screen to halfback Sean Lanonza – to reach the red zone, the Eagles drove in reverse. Tight end Max Wilber lost 6 yards on a screen and Lanman was dropped for a 12-yard loss on third down.
“We had spurts of greatness today,” Lanman said, “but pressure came and the offense as a whole got a little overwhelmed – myself included.”
Los Altos punted from the 36, and Monta Vista scored four plays later to take a commanding 28-7 lead late in the third quarter. The touchdown came on the Matadors’ first and only pass of the game – a 55-yarder from Ryan Manley to an open Milanko Plavsic.
The Eagles answered with a long touchdown pass of their own. Lanman connected with a streaking Ruiz on a 52-yarder with 10:46 left to play. Ruiz finished with 12 catches for 135 yards.
Monta Vista controlled the ball for the next six minutes – a drive capped by Cena’s 4-yard scoring scamper – and got it right back with an interception. The Matadors ran out the final 3:03.
While the loss eliminated the Eagles (6-2 overall) from title contention, they are holding out hope that they can make the playoffs by winning their last two games.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss,” Lanman said. “We’re going to have to bounce back and win out the rest of the season if we have any shot of making the playoffs.”
Los Altos has a bye this week.