Pride Bowl trophy returns to Los Altos

As the Los Altos High football team remained on the field to celebrate Friday night’s 12-9 win and pose for photos with the Pride Bowl trophy, stunned rival Mountain View trudged to the locker room to face disappointed head coach Shelley Smith and his staff.

By the time the somber Spartans emerged, the ebullient Eagles were getting on the bus and the stadium lights at Foothill College had been turned off.

“Our guys weren’t ready to play, and you’d think they would be,” said Smith, whose team entered the non-league game with a 2-0 mark. “I think they were overconfident a little bit.”

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View’s Jai Austin races to the end zone.

Although Mountain View beat Los Altos handily the past two seasons, the Eagles also entered the contest with confidence – and a shiny 3-0 record.

“I knew we could win,” said halfback Erik Skov, who rushed for a team-high 55 yards.

Skov’s longest run of the game all but ensured the victory for the Eagles with approximately two minutes to go. On a third-and-9 run from just inside his team’s 20-yard line, Skov bolted up the middle and broke tackles on the way to a 19-yard gain.

“I looked at the offensive coordinators, and that’s a play that they installed a few weeks ago that we really haven’t run, and I said, ‘Let’s spread them out and run it right up the middle,’” Los Altos head coach Trevor Pruitt said. “I looked at Erik Skov and said, ‘You’re taking us to the victory,’ and he did – and I’m really proud of him.”

Skov wasn’t about to let his coach down.

“I just plunged through that hole,” the junior said. “I knew we needed that first down to win the game.”

The Spartans were out of timeouts and chances on a night in which they failed to capitalize on several opportunities.

Mountain View missed a 26-yard field goal on the last play of the first half, allowing Los Altos to stay ahead at 6-3, and dropped two passes on otherwise perfectly executed trick plays in the third quarter that would have added eight more points. Jai Austin delivered both throws on the money – the first on a fake extra-point try and the other on a halfback pass to an open receiver running to the end zone.

The Spartans still ended the third quarter with a three-point lead, thanks to Austin’s 49-yard scoring scamper on their first drive of the half. The senior finished with a game-high 90 yards.

The score remained 9-6 until midway through the fourth quarter. That’s when Mountain View lost its second fumble of the game, which defensive back Albin Mollerstedt turned into a 34-yard scoop-and-score play for the host Eagles.

“You can’t do that – we killed ourselves,” Smith said of the Spartans’ many miscues, which included a second-quarter fumble that led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Los Altos halfback Jordan Jenab. “We gave them two touchdowns, we missed a field goal and we dropped eight points worth of scores tonight.”

Pruitt thought his team played a part in Mountain View’s struggles.

“We’re a defensive team, and we really hang our hats on effort and being in the right place defensively,” he said. “Our defense did a great job.”

Both teams embark on their league seasons 7 p.m. Friday. Mountain View – promoted to the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division after finishing second in the El Camino Division last season – visits Wilcox, while Los Altos travels to Lynbrook for its El Camino opener.

“The goal is to win each week,” Pruitt said. “We believe inside our locker room we can do that, and we believe we can go 10-0. We believe in ourselves.”

The reeling Spartans, meanwhile, will try to put this tough loss behind them.

“This one’s going to hurt us,” Smith said. “We had a chance to get off to a really good start, and now we’re going to have to overcome some adversity. We’ll see what these kids are made out of.”

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