Coming into Friday’s match-up with Half Moon Bay High School, the Sequoia Cherokees could tell you exactly what happened on Oct. 28, 2011.
Julio Lara/Daily Journal Staff
Dylan Anderson takes off as part of an 81-yard touchdown run in Sequoia's 28-6 win over Half Moon Bay.
It was then that the Cherokees traveled to Half Moon Bay and were handed a 36-15 loss. And something about that day lingered all the way to Friday night when the Cougars visited Sequoia in the last non-league game for both teams.
"We really wanted this game,” said Sequoia quarterback Mike Taylor. "We lost to them big last year. It’s all about set back, come back. That’s our program this year.”
The Cherokees got their revenge, racking up 469 yards of offense en route to a convincing 28-6 win over the Cougars. Half Moon Bay is the reigning Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division champions, but with their ascent to the Bay Division this season, it appears Sequoia would be more that happy, willing and able to take the title this year.
"If we do well, we want to move up (to the Bay Division,” said Sequoia head coach Rob Poulos of the win. "This is how we do it. You have to play those games and beat them in order to qualify. Otherwise, you have no business asking to move up.”
Friday, the Cherokees looked very much like a Bay team, especially in the second half where they put up 262 yards rushing on the Half Moon Bay defense.
"Our hurry-up offense really gets the defense tired,” Taylor said. "We’re really good at running the ball, so when we do pass, the defenders aren’t set. We just ran the heck out of the ball. Our line really stepped it up.”
"They have a good offensive line,” said Half Moon Bay head coach Keith Holden. "Their kids get off the ball well. The quarterback is a good athlete. So, I think it was just over time good athletes over the course of a game start figuring things out. And my hats off to them, they played hard.”
The game was tight in the first half, taking the shape of a great boxing match with the teams trading solid shots and standing tall defensively.
Sequoia got the first big break of the game when Dylan Anderson completed a four-play, 45-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown with seven minutes left in the first quarter. It was the first sign of a what turned out to be a huge day for No. 10. The junior running back carried the ball 17 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
But the star of the first half had to be Sequoia’s defense. Twice, the Cherokees thwarted long, sustained, momentum-building drives by the Cougars. At the end of the first quarter, Half Moon Bay got nothing out of an 11-play drive that ended at the Sequoia 12-yard line. Then, just before the half, Hunter Mitchell and the defense stood tall at the goal line to keep it 7-0 heading into recess.
"Obviously we would rather come away with those situations with points and not zeroes,” Holden said. "So, one of our goals is to execute in the red zone and we didn’t get it done. Obviously we wanted more than six points on the board but Sequoia is a good team and they’re just not going to hand them to you. We have to earn them and we didn’t earn them.”
"They were huge stops,” Poulos said of his defense. "They don’t quit. It’s great that they’re not quitting because when the offense gets into a rhythm, it gets frustrating and you can start breaking rules and they didn’t — they tightened, they tightened, they tightened. They forced the other team to break.”
The game stayed tight in the third quarter, with both teams moving the ball but not finding the end zone.
But come the fourth, something in Taylor and the rest of the Cherokees clicked.
The last quarter began when 33 second in, Will Davenport made it 14-0 with a 7-yard touchdown run.
Then, after Mitchell recovered a Half Moon Bay fumble, Taylor made the Cougars pay the ultimate price with a sensational 42-yard touchdown run. Taylor rushed for 152 yards on 16 carries. He also completed 14 of 18 passing for 98 yards.
"He stepped up,” Poulos said. "Once he started trusting the system and going, it was a joy to watch because that’s when he really punished them. There are a couple of times when he was trying to do too much … and then he calmed down and realized, ‘Hey, wait a second.’ He started making the read and then things popped big. In our system, the quarterback goes big when he starts trusting it.”
Anderson all but sealed the deal a little more than a minute later on an 81-yard touchdown flash that made it 28-0 with 6:25 left in the game.
Half Moon Bay pulled a score back on a 29-yard touchdown run courtesy of Daniel Welsh. The Cougar offense was efficient on Friday, amassing 311 yards. John Bali led the way with 113 yards on the ground.