Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Terra Nova running back John Wallace, left, looks for some running room while Menlo’s Colin Johnson, right, leaps over a fallen teammate. Wallace finished with 273 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 27 carries during the Tigers’ 44-25 win over the Knights.
Menlo quarterback Jack Heneghan was 34 for 62 for 498 yards and accounted for four
touchdowns: two passing and two running.
All the hype leading up to Friday’s football game between Terra Nova and host Menlo School centered around the expected aerial battle between two of the best quarterbacks in the Central Coast Section.
Terra Nova’s Anthony Gordon and Menlo’s Jack Heneghan did not disappoint, combining to throw for more than 800 yards.
But the star of the show? That would be Terra Nova running back John Wallace. Menlo coach Mark Newton said it is a “misconception” that neither the Tigers nor the Knights can run the ball. Wallace disproved that notion emphatically, rushing for a season-high 273 yards and five touchdowns in leading Terra Nova to a big 44-25 win over Menlo to stay in a tie for first place atop the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay Division.
Sacred Heart Prep kept pace with the Tigers, beating South City 45-10 Friday afternoon.
Wallace had a day’s worth of stats in the first half alone as he rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters. His 4-yard run on Terra Nova’s first drive tied the game at 7. On the Tigers’ next possession, Wallace lined up in the Wildcat formation on fourth and inches, took the snap and bolted 70 yards to put the Tigers up 14-13. He then capped his first half with a 5-yard plunge to put his team up 22-19.
“Coach (Tim) Adams told me at halftime if I didn’t get 300 yards, I wouldn’t start next week,” Wallace said with a smile.
It’s a safe bet Wallace will be in there next week when the Tigers host Menlo-Atherton. While Wallace came up just short of the 300-yard mark, 273 is nothing at which to scoff. He gained 115 more and scored two more touchdowns in the second half to put the game away. In the third quarter, he scored from 19 yards out and then capped his impressive performance with an exclamation point, going 62 yards for the final score of the game on the second play of the fourth quarter.
“[Wallace] is an outstanding running back,” said Terra Nova coach Bill Gray. “We’ve known that all along. We thought we could exert our dominance at the line of scrimmage.”
Terra Nova (3-0 PAL Bay, 7-0 overall) needed every bit of Wallace’s output as it wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the Tigers pulled away from Menlo (1-1, 5-2). Gordon also did his part very efficiently. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers needed to be firing on all cylinders offensively because in the first half, Terra Nova had a tough time slowing down the Knights’ potent offense.
Heneghan showed why he is one of the top quarterbacks in CCS after completing 34 of 62 passes for an eye-popping 498 yards. He was especially deadly in the first half, completing 16 of 26 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns as the Knights built a 25-22 lead at halftime.
He also rushed for two scores in the opening two quarters.
Heneghan was 5 for 5 for 58 yards on Menlo’s first drive as the Knights marched 69 yards on eight play to take a 7-0 lead on the first possession of the game, scoring himself on a quarterback keeper from four yards out.
After Terra Nova came back with Wallace’s first score of the game, Heneghan led the Knights on a 80-yard drive, culminating in his second touchdown of the day, this one from 10 yards away.
The Knights, however, failed on the 2-point conversion and led 13-7.
Wallace’s 70-yard burst on the Tigers’ next possession gave them a 14-13 lead, but Menlo took the lead right back when Heneghan hooked up with Pete Bouret on a 22-yard score. Both Bouret and Terra Nova defensive back Matt Sese had ahold of the pass, but Bouret wrestled it away for the score and a 19-14 Menlo lead.
Back came the Tigers, going 73 yards on six plays, the key being a 30-yard Wallace run down to the 5-yard line. He punched it on the next play and Terra Nova re-took the lead, 22-19.
On Menlo’s next drive, Heneghan delivered his best pass of the game, dropping a 40-yard bomb right into the hands of Will King for a touchdown that gave Menlo a 25-22 lead at halftime.
“This [was] the first game we’ve been behind. But the kids were calm and rational (at halftime) … and we made some very good (defensive) adjustments,” Gray said. “You have to give credit to Mark Newton and Jack Heneghan. They were picking us apart (in the first half).”
In the second half, however, those defensive adjustments allowed the Tigers to get more pressure on Heneghan and kept him confined, mostly, to the pocket. A lot of Heneghan’s second-half throws were wobbly and low, but his receivers didn’t help him, dropping a number of catchable balls.
“We probably left another 100 yards on the ground (in dropped passes),” Newton said. “[The Terra Nova defense] did a good job of getting a pass rush with four or five guys and, not that we make excuses, but I think our guys got a little tired.”
The Terra Nova defense did something no team has done to Menlo this season: shut out the Knights offense for a half. The 25 points scored was a season-low for Menlo.
“When you play Menlo, you have to keep the ball in front of you,” Gray said. “Priority No. 1 was not to get beat deep and priority No. 2 was to keep the quarterback in the pocket. Third was to make sure we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Despite the 19-point difference, the game was a lot tighter than the final score indicated. And while Newton admitted his explanation was rather simplistic, it summed up the game perfectly.
“It came down to making plays in key moments,” Newton said. “[Terra Nova] executed really, really well.”