Yes, of course a football team goes into every single game on its schedule wanting to win.
But on Friday night, the San Mateo Bearcats went into Carlmont High School with a little more than desire — they weren’t hiding the fact that a win was desperately needed.
The past two weeks, San Mateo suffered embarrassing losses to Berkeley and Menlo School, respectively. So, in order to regain a bit of sanity, a victorious showing against the Scots was needed.
But being that the Scots were in a similar position, they didn’t make it easy on San Mateo. And at the end of 48 minutes, it was San Mateo’s ability to capitalize on Carlmont’s mistakes that fueled a 19-10 win.
“We needed this win big time,” said San Mateo head coach Jeff Scheller. “Especially coming into a game against a team in Carlmont that is going to be a force in the Lake Division. We needed to get that winning feeling back. Carlmont made it a little too close for comfort though.”
“They didn’t give up and kept fighting no matter what,” said Carlmont head coach Marcus Farhad. “And that’s only going to help us in the long run.”
Neither team was sharp, but it was San Mateo’s ability to find the big play that sparked them on both sides of the ball.
Carlmont, behind a fired-up home crowd, struck first. The Scots built a decent drive to end the initial period and kept that momentum going in the second quarter when quarterback Matthew Stalun burned the San Mateo defense on a 22-yard touchdown keeper to make it 7-0.
But San Mateo saw that big run and raised Carlmont an even bigger one. After penalties knocked the Bearcats back to their own 15-yard line, Line Latu reeled off another highlight run, going 85 yards up the sideline, showing great balance along the way, to make it 7-6.
That run marked the biggest momentum shift of the game because it was followed by a big Carlmont fumble on their ensuing possession that was recovered by the Bearcats at the 9-yard line.
Two plays later, Watson Filikitonga carried the ball into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 5:35 left in the half.
Carlmont was able to get some of those points back after a Bearcat turnover gave them the ball on the San Mateo 27-yard line a couple drives later. But instead of getting into the end zone, Carlmont settled for three points on a 40-yard field goal courtesy of the strong-legged Aaron Albaum.
Little did the Scots know that would be all the scoring San Mateo would allow them to do.
“They knocked the wind out of our sails a little bit,” Farhad said, referencing a couple of instances when Carlmont had the ball inside the 30-yard line and could not capitalize. “We came out a little flat and by the time we recovered, it was a little too late.”
San Mateo came out in the second half and scored on its first possession. The big play was a 42-yard pass from Jason Gonzalez to Christian Zarco that put the ball on the Carlmont 20. Five plays later, Gonzalez rushed the ball in from two yards out.
“It was big,” Scheller said. “And that’s what we needed to do. We had to find other weapons besides Line (Latu). And we have to be able to throw the ball. If we can’t do that, we’ll be in a lot of trouble.”
Carlmont keyed in on Latu for the entirety of the game and still Latu rushed for 157 yards and that big touchdown.