The Half Moon Bay High School football team left Homestead Friday with its character and heart in tact.
Yes, the Cougars fell to Homestead in a nonleague opener, just as they did the previous two years. But unlike those nonleague games, Friday’s game went down to the wire with Homestead hanging on to the 28-25 win.
No one could have anticipated the closeness of the game considered Homestead dominated the first half, leading 21-6 at halftime.
“We knew we had to play tough,” said running back John Bali. “We were tired of losing to Homestead the last two years, getting our butts kicked. We came out fired up.”
Half Moon Bay took the second-half kickoff and marched the ball 78 yards for a score. The drive ended with a 5-yard slant from Shane Acton to Dan Welch.
Acton completed 9-of-16 passes for 176 yards and three touchdown passes, with two scoring strikes going to Welch. A 66-yard catch-and-run accounted for the Cougars only score in the first half.
That score fired up the Cougars’ defense, as they forced a Homestead fumble on its first drive. Bali, who recovered the fumble, scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Homestead’s next drive ended with a punt, and Half Moon Bay was in line to take the lead for the first time in the game.
That happened as Acton fired his third TD pass of the game, a 20-yard slant-in to Eulalio Mata, who broke a few tackles on his way to the end zone.
“I think it was exciting the way we came out in the second half and the way we played at times,” said linebacker Joseph Lowman. “It was great at times.”
The defense made another stop, putting Half Moon Bay in a good spot. But a Half Moon Bay fumble set up Homestead. The Mustangs took advantage, taking the lead with 4:56 left in the game.
Half Moon Bay turned over the ball two plays after Homestead took the lead on an Acton interception. The Mustangs ran out the clock. Half Moon Bay turned the ball over four times.
“Mistakes happen,” Bali said. “We still have to pick it up. The game is not over at halftime. I feel good about our team.”
The Cougars are excited about hosting Wilcox in a 7 p.m. game Friday.
“We just wanted to go out there and give it our all,” said linebacker Ben Thornton. “I feel like we learned a lot.”
The frosh-soph team earned a 14-7 win over Homestead. The Cougars took the lead late in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard plunge by Toby Leonardos. The drive was set up by an impressive catch by Pablo Gutierrez, who dragged tacklers 20 yards down field.
Tommy Nuño connected with Brandon Inglis on a 75-yard scoring pass.
Next up: Home opener. Half Moon Bay hosts its first of five football games at 7 p.m., Friday, playing Wilcox in a nonleague contest. It’s the first meeting between the two teams. Wilcox lost in its opener to Serra, 30-6, last week.