Perfectly timed call helps Monte Vista hold off Bellarmine, remain perfect

Perfectly timed call helps Monte Vista hold off Bellarmine, remain perfect

DANVILLE – The Monte Vista High School football team hit Bellarmine with one big play after another Friday night – only to see the Bells bounce back seemingly every time.

Finally, the Mustangs put Bellarmine away, using a play they kept in their back pocket — only to use it at the perfect time — to deliver the knockout blow.

Quarterback Brayden Turner evaded a blitz on fourth down and found running back Julian McMahan open in the flat for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter to help the Mustangs post a 40-30 nonleague win over Bellarmine and improve to 3-0 for the second time in three years.

The touchdown capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive in which the ball went to McMahan 10 times. On the late score, Turner, on his fifth touchdown pass of the game, threw over a blitzing defensive back to an open McMahan, who scrambled into the zone untouched.

“We had been talking about that play call literally the entire week,” said McMahan, who scored his seventh touchdown of the season. “From the first time on Monday when I walked out to our locker room, my coach was talking about that play. So I’ve been ready the entire week. I knew it was coming.”

“We knew we were going to use it because they blitz so heavily,” Monte Vista coach Johnny Millard said of the play. “It was a great call by (offensive coordinator Joe) Wingert. We saw them blitzing when we motioned like that, got Julian (open) and Brayden delivered.”

Turner threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter, on completions of 80, 16, and 76 yards to Brayden Breedlove, Kellan Ford, and Jacob Shehata, respectively, as Monte Vista raced out to a 20-0 lead. Turner also hit Luke Claussen with an 80-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and his five touchdown passes are one short of the school record shared by Ryan Whalen, Brett Nottingham, and Jake Haener.

Shehata also had a long punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter to give Monte Vista a 33-23 lead.

Turner completed 11 of 19 passes for 328 yards, giving him 718 yards through the air in three games.

“We knew (Bellarmine was) going to blitz all night, and they’re good at it, and I thought he responded well,” Millard said of Turner.

The game-clinching drive came after Bellarmine linebacker Josh Aguilar intercepted a screen pass by Turner and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, cutting Monte Vista’s lead to 33-30 with just under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The result, while hardly satisfying, was an improvement for Bellarmine (1-2) over the 40-0 drubbing it took from McClymonds last week when the Bells simply made too many mistakes against the Oakland powerhouse.

“There’s a lot of things we still have to learn and unfortunately most of those lessons come the hard way,” Bellarmine coach David Diaz-Infante said. “But I’m proud of our kids and the way they fought and hung in there and battled because they could have folded the tent. But they didn’t. They did the opposite.”

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The play of quarterback Parker Threatt helped keep Bellarmine in the game as he scored three first-half touchdowns, including one on a dazzling 50-yard run with 3:35 left in the second quarter that cut Monte Vista’s lead to 26-20. A 51-yard field goal by Connor Tripp trimmed Monte Vista’s lead to 26-23 shortly before halftime.

Threatt had 147 yards rushing and 148 yards passing for Bellarmine, which has a bye week before they open West Catholic Athletic League play at Valley Christian on Sept. 23.

“Gutsy. He’s an athlete,” Diaz-Infante said of Threatt. “We’re figuring out who we are offensively. On defense, we’ll be good enough to keep us in most games and we’ll see if our offense can keep going like you saw in the second quarter.”