Scots on wrong end of history in loss to Knights


Joshua Baxter

Jonaven Kuhn, a senior, cuts through the opening in the defense on a run.

Friday’s game of Carlmont at Menlo was something never seen before. Not only was it Menlo’s homecoming game, but it was also the first time in Menlo football history that they played a home game at night.

The Scots suffered a 23-17 defeat to the Knights, who were led by quarterback Kevin Alarcon, a senior, and running back Samson Axe, a senior, who broke off a few big runs.

“I think about how hard my linemen are working, and there’s no better feeling in the world than seeing an open field and running through it,” Axe said.

In what was a fierce battle, the Scots fate was ultimately sealed when the Knights fell on top of the onside kick with 56 seconds remaining in the game.

The Scots happened to be the team that struck first, scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run by Sean Mckenna, a junior, with 13 seconds left in the first quarter. The score came after the previous three drives had stalled, including a Scots drive deep into the Knights territory with a 50-yard run by Mckenna.

Menlo responded three drives later when Alarcon, who came back into the game after taking a hit early in the first, drove them down the field and then scored on a one-yard touchdown run. The PAT was successful and set the score at seven apiece, at which it would remain heading into halftime.

Set up by a huge kickoff return by Si’i Tengei, a junior, the Scots opened up second-half scoring with a one-yard rush by Dane Fifita, a sophomore.

The Scots were never able to find a solid foothold, however, and let the Knights march down the field and score on a 19-yard touchdown catch by Jaden Richardson, a senior.

“We’ve had some injuries over the last couple weeks where we’ve had to mix and match guys, and at key points in time, having guys in positions where they weren’t 100% sure of what they were doing was disastrous for us,” said Carlmont head coach Jake Messina.

After Carlmont turned the ball over, it seemed like Menlo’s drive had gone to waste, nearly losing more yards than they gained. On a fourth-down, the Knights lined up in punt formation but snapped the ball to Justin Sellers, a senior, who ran 19 yards for a first down. The fake punt conversion energized the Knights who scored on a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Axe, putting Menlo up 21-14.

“We worked on that this week and put Justin, one of our quarterbacks, at that position, and he had the reigns to make the call. I didn’t make the call from the sidelines, he made a judgment call as a player, and it was the right call, which was awesome,” said Menlo head coach Josh Bowie.

The Scots looked to have a response when Jonaven Kuhn, a senior, carried the ball inside the Knights 20-yard line, but a block in the back penalty negated the run.

“It bummed us out, but we kept on fighting. Not all of the calls were to our liking, but we continued to work hard,” Kuhn said.

The Scots ended up getting pushed back by another penalty, and on fourth down, the snap sailed way over the head of punter Gino Bonetti, a junior, and out of the back of the endzone for a safety. The safety put Menlo up 23-14 with just over nine minutes to play and gave them possession of the ball as well.

Scots quarterback Timothy Netane, a sophomore, threw an interception on their next drive, but the defense came up big and forced a turnover on downs. The Scots then put a drive together and got the ball down inside the Knight’s 10. Bonetti double doinked the field goal try, briefly silencing Carlmont. However, unlike Cody Parkey, the kicker for the Chicago Bears during the 2018-2019 season, his kick made it through and set the score at 23-17.

“We got our blocks down and started throwing the ball more, and that opened up the run game for us, and that helped us get down to the endzone,” Kuhn said.

Bonetti took a hit on the kick, leaving the game. On the ensuing onside kick, the Knights recovered the ball, shattering Carlmont’s hopes for a comeback.

The win was huge for the Knights, as they did so in front of hundreds of students, parents, and alumni alike, all coming together for homecoming. It was even more standout as it occurred against a Scots team projected to be competing with Half Moon Bay for the Ocean League title.

“It feels amazing. We had a good work ethic this week, put in a lot of effort, and I’m really happy that it paid off,” Axe said.

It is also important to note that this was rather uncharted waters for the Knights, as they had never played a game at home underneath the lights before.

“I thought it was awesome, there were a lot of distractions going on with all these events at school, but they handled it with poise and class,” Bowie said. “I think the big-ticket was that all these fans gave support and I think we fed off the energy of the crowd. Menlo’s played 100 years of football, and this was the first time a team has gotten to play under the lights in this kind of environment, and I thought that was special.”

In the end, the Scots were undone by penalties, committing 11 of them throughout the game. Many of these penalties had either negated a big Carlmont play or extended a drive for the Knights.

“Some of our penalties were obvious and deserved, but some of them we got the short end of the stick, and in a tight game, that can be the difference,” Messina said. “We have to play better and clean it up and figure some things out. As much as I’ve think we’ve progressed and moved it forward, maybe we aren’t quite there yet.”

The Scots’ next game comes at home versus San Mateo (5-1), while the Knights travel to Half Moon Bay to play the undefeated Cougars (6-0).