The Falcons fell 27-20 to Sacred Heart Prep in Menlo Park on Saturday, Nov. 19, in a nail-biter won by the home team in the final moments.
It was the Falcons who found their stride early. Defensive back Noah Beito intercepted the Gators’ third play of scrimmage when he grabbed a bobbled deep pass out of the air. Scotts Valley then capitalized for a touchdown on a fourth-and-three play when senior quarterback Jack Pasquini found sophomore Joe Gillette in the back corner of the end zone, to put the Falcons up 7-0.
After holding the Gators to a three-and-out, the Falcons again took advantage of good field position, and Beito drilled a 36-yard field goal. Sacred Heart’s next possession went even worse, as players fumbled a handoff that was recovered for the Falcons by Spencer Fogelquist. He returned the ball 15 yards for the touchdown that put his team on top 17-0.
The Gators finally got on the board in the end of the second quarter, when quarterback Jack Larson hit Ryan Gartner for a 10-yard touchdown reception to make the halftime score 17-7 in favor of the Falcons.
Scotts Valley had lost to Sacred Heart 31-15 on Sept. 23, so the Gators seemed a bit shell-shocked to be trailing by 10 at halftime.
In the second half, they got back on track with what seemed to be the help of the officials and slowed the Falcons’ scoring onslaught, allowing only a field goal in the second half.
The final minutes of the game were spectacularly played.
The Gators scored on a Jack Larson pass to Duke Moran to tie the game in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, but Scotts Valley’s Andrew Stumbo blocked the point-after attempt, and the game remained tied 20-20.
The Gators held the Falcons to a three-and-out, though, and a great punt return put Sacred Heart at the Falcon 35-yard-line. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Sacred Heart scored again on Larson’s pass to receiver Pat Bruni for the 27-20 advantage.
Scotts Valley’s Victor Passanisi returned the following kickoff all the way down to the Gators 35-yard line before being tackled with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. The Falcons called timeout, and on the final play of the game, Pasquini lofted a Hail Mary pass into a tight pack of Falcons and Gators in the end zone. The ball was batted down harmlessly, and the Gators again took home the victory, 27-20.
During the game, Falcon running back Collin Corbella passed the great Santa Cruz High tailback Johnny Johnson’s mark of 1,729 yards on the season and finished his senior season with 1,872 yards and 13 touchdowns — the second highest single-season total in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League history. Harbor High School’s Calvin Keyser-Allen rushed for 2,360 yards in 2000.
“I couldn’t have done any of this with out my line. A big thank-you to them and to my wingman here,” Corbella said, gesturing to nearby Passanisi.
The Falcons finished 8-3 on the season.
After the game, the team gathered in the end zone, and the seniors said their farewells to the juniors and sophomores.
“I’m not sad because I won’t play football again,” Passanisi said through watery eyes. “I am sad because I will never play football with any of you guys again.”