Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Mills wide receiver Josh Sved, right, makes a leaping grab in front El Camino's Nester Dominguez during the Vikings' 14-6 win over the Colts.
When two evenly matched football teams square off, the game usually boils down to a battle of wills — which team wants it more.
That was the scenario Friday afternoon in Millbrae where Mills hosted El Camino in the Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division opener for both squads.
Defenses ruled in this one, but in the end, the Mills offense made a couple more plays than El Camino did, pulling out a hard-fought 14-6 victory.
“Fantastic,” was how Mills coach Mike Krieger described his team’s performance. “We made plays when we had to.”
After a scoreless first half during which both teams combined for 179 yards, Mills (1-0 PAL Lake, 4-1 overall) took the second-half kickoff 64 yards to take a 7-0 lead.
El Camino scored its lone touchdown early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Michael Keegan plowed in from a yard out, but defensive pressure from the Vikings right up the middle forced the Colts to miss the extra point and Mills clung to a 7-6 lead.
The Vikings scored on their ensuing drive to take a 14-6 lead and then the Mills defense made a final stand on the Colts’ final drive of the game, ending El Camino’s chances when Mills cornerback Jaime Alfaro sacked Keegan on fourth-and-long with under 20 seconds to play.
All El Camino coach Mark Turner could do was ponder what could have been.
“Missed opportunities,” Turner said. “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half to make plays. We didn’t finish. … We just didn’t make enough plays. That team (Mills) did what they were supposed to do.”
Neither team could muster much offensively in the first two quarters. With Mills focusing on El Camino running back Brandon Gip and the Colts looking to shut down Vikings’ runner Antonio Jeffrey, who finished with just 42 yards on 17 carries, both teams had to come up with a plan B offensively.
While El Camino mainly stuck with Gip and the ground game — he finished with 112 yards on 29 carries — Mills decided to go to the air and it paid off. Vikings’ quarterback Marquis Adkins had one of the best days of his varsity career as he completed 12 of 15 passes for 147 and a touchdown (along with an interception). Adkins, a junior, completed his first 10 passes in a row before El Camino’s John Turner intercepted a pass at the Colts’ 5-yard line.
Adkins also rushed five times for 33 yards and the Vikings’ other score.
“[Adkins is] a first-year quarterback, but he’s a supreme athlete,” Krieger said. “He’s a dual threat, for sure.”
Adkins was aided by the play of receiver Josh Sved, who made several outstanding catches. Sved finished with six catches for 92 yards and a score — all in the second half.
Sved caught four passes on the Vikings’ first drive of the third quarter, including a four yarder for a touchdown and a 7-0 Mills lead. His first catch went for 18 yards and then caught a 16 yarder on the next play, absorbing a huge hit from the El Camino defender. His third catch of the drive was good for 18, as he came back to the quarterback and leaped in front of a surprised defensive back to make a headlong grab.
“Josh is a football player. He’s 100 percent football and he leaves every ounce on the field,” Krieger said. “He’s the top one or two players on our team for sure.”
Sved also factored into the Vikings’ second score of the game. On second-and-goal from the El Camino 14-yard line, Adkins dropped back to pass. With no one open and the pocket collapsing, Adkins took off. He got near the goal line and picked up a big block from Sved which sprung Adkins into the end zone to put Mills up 14-6 with 6:36 to play.
The Colts then embarked on a 18-play drive, starting at their own 18 and driving down to the Mills 14 before the Vikings’ defense stiffened and ended El Camino’s chances on Alfaro’s sack.
“We executed really well in the second half,” Krieger said.
That drive encapsulated the game — El Camino methodically driving down the field, but the Mills defense stiffening at the right time. In the first half, the Colts came up empty on an 18-play drive and also failed to convert after starting their final drive of the first half at the Mills 31-yard line.
Mills had similar chances go by the board as well. The Vikings appeared poised to march down and score on their opening drive of the game, moving from their 19 to the El Camino 15 on just five plays — coupled with a pair of personal foul penalties on the Colts. But on first down from the 15, the Vikings fumbled the ball away to El Camino.
They were driving again in the second quarter and again fumbled the ball away in El Camino territory.
“I thought defensively we would be able to hold them down,” Turner said. “I was surprised we didn’t play well offensively.”