By Noah Glosson, Sports Editor
// After a slow first half, the football team stormed back against Diablo Athletic League (DAL) rival Miramonte and completely shut down the Matador offense in the second half on their way to a 17-14 win.
On the first drive of the game, Miramonte marched 61 yards, capped off with a 5-yard quarterback rush to give the Mats a 7-0 lead.
Neither team scored thereafter and the first quarter concluded with the Matadors in front by a touchdown.
In the second quarter, the Acalanes defense stood tall as they forced a turnover on downs with 6:30 remaining in the half.
On the Dons second play of the drive, junior quarterback Brady Huchingson found senior wide receiver Lucas Eppinger on a slant route. Eppinger weaved his way around defenders and picked up 46 yards on the play.
On the next play, Huchingson tied the game up by muscling his way into the endzone, evening the score at 7.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs, the Matadors retained possession with just over two minutes remaining in the half.
Miramonte quickly moved into Dons territory and scored a 20-yard passing touchdown to take a 14-7 lead with just under two minutes to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eppinger sliced his way through the Miramonte return team for a 72-yard touchdown that was subsequently rescinded due to a block in the back penalty.
The Dons fought their way down inside the Miramonte one-yard line with just seconds remaining in the half.
Unfortunately, Huchingson received a bad snap and the half ended with the Matadors in front 14-7.
On the first drive of the second half, Acalanes cut the lead down to 14-10 with a 32-yard field goal from junior Hunter Ridley.
On the next Miramonte possession, the Matadors were threatening on the Acalanes 33-yard line. Senior Mikey O’Donnell and junior Niko Cortessis blew up the 4th down conversion, forcing another turnover.
After forcing another three-and-out two drives later, Acalanes took possession deep in Matadors territory after a 28-yard punt return by Eppinger.
In one quick motion, Huchingson fired a strike to senior Jack Muren, putting the Dons in front 17-14.
Miramonte found themselves going for it on fourth down again, but junior Joey Carillo foiled the attempt with a huge tackle for loss.
This gave the Dons a chance to put the nail in the coffin with four minutes remaining.
Huchingson right away found Muren for a 35-yard gain into Miramonte territory. On fourth down and ten, Huchingson couldn’t convert to Eppinger and the Dons turned it over with 3:30 remaining in the game.
On the third play of their drive, Miramonte picked up 28-yards and moved into Acalanes territory.
After a penalty and a sack, the Matadors faced a fourth and long with just over a minute remaining.
Cortessis immediately rushed in for the sack and Acalanes took over. After a pair of victory formation kneels, the Dons emerged victorious.
The story of the night was the stout Dons defense. After an incredible effort against Campolindo last week, the defense shut out Miramonte in second half and held them to 6-26 on third and fourth down.
“Our defense did a great job in the entire second half,” Cortessis said. “We shut down the pass, the run, our whole defensive line flustered them and we came away with the win.”
Cortessis recorded seven tackles with two sacks on the night. O’Donnell added 13 tackles and junior Graham Oh tallied seven of his own.
On offense, Huchingson threw for 120 yards and one touchdown, while adding one on the ground. Eppinger recorded two catches for 61 yards.
“The offense played well, Lucas and Brady did a great job, and we came back from a slow first quarter to get it done,” Ridley said.
The Dons come home for senior night against Alhambra on Nov. 1.
With a Campolindo victory over Las Lomas, the Dons sit in a three-way tie for first place in the DAL. If Acalanes defeats Alhambra and Campo beats Miramonte next week, the Dons, Knights and Cougars will be named co-champions. This would be Dons’ first league title since 1980.
“This school hasn’t done this in a long time and it’s going to take grit and everybody doing their job,” Cortessis said.