Mountainside upsets Sunset in overtime 27-26
Mountainside's football season just keeps getting better.
After starting the season with three consecutive defeats, the Mavericks won their third straight game, defeating No. 10-ranked Sunset 27-26 in overtime Friday night, Oct. 8, at Sunset High School.
Mountainside quarterback Brain Mannion put the visiting Mavericks ahead 27-20 with a 2-yard plunge on the opening possession of OT, then watched as Sunset's extra point attempt to tie the game â€“ after a Grad Newsom to Hayden Hurley touchdown pass â€“ sailed wide left, setting-off a raucous Mountainside celebration in front of a stunned Sunset crowd.
"This is about them," Mountainside head coach John Mannion said as he pointed to his celebrating team. "To be able to win an overtime game against an outstanding program that went undefeated last spring, this is just a huge deal for these kids."
The Mavericks (3-3, 2-1) appeared to have the game won in regulation when Brian Mannion hit running back Joe Pribula on a 10-yard scoring pass to put Mountainside ahead 20-17 with 35 seconds remaining. But Newsom put the Apollos in field goal range when he connected with Chase Limbocker on a 44-yard seam route, and kicker Sam Harker sent the game to overtime with a 35-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock.
Mannion said â€“ while disappointed â€“ the team remained steadfast heading to the extra period, and proved their worth despite that disappointment from their late game slip-up.
"In overtime we didn't blink," the quarterback said. "Everyone was hyped and we just kept going and pulled it out."
The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half, but Sunset (4-2, 2-1) wasted little time getting on the board in the second, capping a 61-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Newsom to senior tight end Aiden Timbo 1:26 into the third quarter.
After a Mountainside fumble on the ensuing possession, the Apollos added to their lead with a 23-yard Harker field goal to go ahead 10-0 and appeared ready to put the game to bed before a bad snap on a punt attempt set the Mavericks up with a short field late in the third quarter, allowing the visitors to pull within 10-7 on a Mannion to Kadin Kingsbury 10-yard touchdown pass.
A second Sunset error â€“ a fumble on their first possession of the fourth quarter â€“ again set Mountainside up with advantageous field position before Mannion led the Mavericks 46 yards in 10 plays, culminating with an 8-yard strike to Bowen Stinson which gave the visitors their first lead, 14-10.
Mountainside leaned heavily on running back Caleb Paler on the possession, who carried the ball five times for 31 yards before Stinson's score. Mannion said that the power running game was part of the game plan going in, and that it's something they've been doing well in the weeks leading up to tonight's game with the Apollos.
"We wanted to establish the run," he said. "The past couple of weeks Caleb (Paler) and Bowen (Stinson) have been running the ball like crazy, and the whole line has been awesome. I can't say enough about all those guys. Everyone did great."
Sunset however answered the bell, responding to their first deficit with a three-play drive capped by a Caleb Kim 39-yard touchdown run to put the Apollos back in front 17-14. But Mountainside too responded, driving 70 yards in eight plays, setting up Pribula's go-ahead score.
"We love that play," Mannion said. "We literally call that play 'TD Special. It's a little play fake and Joe made a great catch."
Both teams made it look easy on their overtime possessions before Sunset's failed kick attempt ended what was a great high school game, but Coach Mannion wasn't about to let the unfortunate ending put a damper on what was a great night for a team he said continues to make him proud.
"I know who these guys are," the Mountainside coach said. "I told them before the game that I was as proud of them as any team I've ever coached. They're a little bit of a 'little engine that could,' and they did a heck of a job and continue to impress me."
And where do the Mavericks go from here? Up, their quarterback said. After-all, now they're headed in the right direction.
"Three in a row is a streak, right?" Mannion said. "No one ever wants a streak to end."
Mannion finished 17-of-24 for 215 yards and three touchdown passes, while Paler had 86 yards rushing and Quinn O'Connor caught eight balls for 88 yards.
Sunset's Newsom was 23-for-28 for 302 yards and two touchdown passes, while Kim rushed for 96 yards and a score, and Timbo and Hurley combined for 14 catches for 199 yards and two scores.
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