Football bound for title game; Beltran sets another CCS record
11.19.2021 – In their most complete game yet this season, the Menlo Knights advanced to the CCS Div. II Football Championship after knocking out top seed San Benito in a 45-35 victory in front of hundreds in Hollister on Friday night.
The fourth-seeded Knights improve to 12-0, and will face third seeded Wilcox, a 20-13 winner over St. Ignatius in the final either Friday or Saturday. Nov. 26 or Nov. 27.
Another CCS record fell for Sergio Beltran, who posted three passing touchdowns and three rushing TDs. The senior quarterback now has 51 passing touchdowns in a season, topping the previous record of 49 set in 2013 by Terra Nova’s Anthony Gordon, who went on to set Pac-12 records at Washington State. Beltran reached the CCS record for touchdown passes in regular season on Oct. 29 against Carlmont with 42, breaking the mark set in 1989 by Ryan Hancock of Monta Vista as recorded by Cal-Hi Sports. Against San Benito,l Beltran distributed the ball to six receivers, completing 35 of 43 for 368 yards with touchdown passes to Enright and two to Scola.
“It’s something special to see all your boys cheering for you, and looking at the other team and knowing and appreciating how much work they put in,” Beltran said.”Football is just an amazing game, a game of love. I mean how can you not love football? I’m just glad we pulled away with the win and it’s just a great moment all together.”
In Hollister, the Knights had to fend off a strong and persistent San Benito team through the fourth quarter. The Knights led 17-14 at the half after Beltran engineered a seven-play drive that finished when he delivered a corner route to junior Robby Enright right before halftime.
“We showed that we can play all four quarters - which we hadn’t shown before,” Beltran said. “I think also we just have to remember that when we mess up not to let it get in our head, We just have to keep our foot on the gas and keep on driving forward. I think we did a great job of that in the second half.”
Menlo would come up with big plays, including in the second half when senior Sam Scola made an interception to start the third. Jack Giesler would boost a two runs and a catch, gaining 20 yards and Scola made a 12-yard catch to get the ball to the 3, where Beltran ran it in for one of his three rushing touchdowns.
San Benito persisted. In the fourth quarter, the Balers’ Michael Reyes would run for back-to-back touchdowns, and San Benito took a 35-31 lead with 4:57 left. The Knights countered: Ty Richardson fielded the onside kick, giving Menlo good position near midfield. Beltran marched the team through four plays, then shook off a small army of defenders to connect on a key 20-yard pass to Charlie King on third down before Scola scored on a 25-yard TD. Menlo took back the lead 38-35 with three minutes left.
“I think the biggest thing we had to do was we had to shift to what maximized us the most - we lost a couple guys to injury for a bit - so we had to switch back to an even front - we struggled with that a bit at the start, but I think we had that “next man up” mentality - different guys stepping up - and then of course, we have Sergio in the backfield, and I don’t think anyone else has beaten him,” linebacker Aidan Housenbold said.
“This was the best passing offense we faced, you saw it in the first pass (from Tyler Pacheco) - it was a long bomb and we were kind of discombobulated but we hunkered down and fought back then we got punched in the mouth again and I think we stayed with it and we finished the game off strong.”
Menlo School 3 14 14 14 – 45
San Benito 7 7 7 14 – 35
M – Ross Muchnick field goal, 11:30 3-0
SB – Isaiah Molina 45 pass from Tyler Pacheco, 3:42
M – Sergio Beltran 8 run (Muchnick kick) 9:16 10-7
SB – Pacheco 7 run (Manuel Velazco kick) 6:15 14-10
M – Robby Enright 31 pass from Beltran (Muchnick kick), :14.5
M – Beltran 3 run (Muchnick kick) 5:22
SB– Michael Reyes 2 run (Velazco kick), 3:02
M – Sam Scola 63 pass from Beltran (Muchnick kick) 1:03
SB – Reyes 3 run (Velazco kick) 10:00
SB– Reyes 15 run (Velazco kick) 4:57
M – Scola 30 pass from Beltran (Muchnick kick) 3:12
M – Beltran 1 run (Muchnick kick) :16.5