For a team that has relied heavily on big plays for most of the season, the Mission High School football team exhibited a noticeable patience to punch its ticket to the Academic Athletic Association-San Francisco Section championship game.
The Bears racked up 318 yards rushing from five different ball carriers and pieced together several sustained scoring drives in a 47-28 win over Galileo in the AAA semifinals on Thursday at Kezar Stadium.
“We know big plays are going to happen now and then, but we want to be consistent and run the ball consistently,” said Mission quarterback Antoine Porter, who led the rushing effort with 106 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. “We don’t want to rely on one play because sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
When the game needed to be put away, however, the big plays came.
With Galileo trailing 35-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Lions’ defense appeared to be gaining traction when it stopped Mission running back Armani McFarland at the line of scrimmage on second and long. But McFarland, in the grasp of two Galileo defenders, flipped the ball backward to junior running back Dreon McElroy, who then burst down the left sideline for a 55-yard score.
“He was just sitting there with his hands out and he was open,” said McFarland, who ran for 89 yards on 12 carries and also had a 19-yard touchdown reception. “We made a play.”
On the next Mission drive, Galileo again appeared to get a stop, forcing the Bears into a three-and-out, but fell victim to the athleticism and improvising ability of Porter.
Lined up in punt formation Porter, who also punts for the Bears, saw the fourth-down snap nearly sail over his head, then rolled to his left and hurled a pass to wide receiver Alex Tico for a 51-yard score that extended the Mission lead to 47-20 with 7:31 remaining.
The play call was to punt, but the Bears have a contingency plan for bad snaps, giving Porter the freedom to make a play.
“He’s made a lot of plays for us, so we have that relationship, where I give him some freedom on the field and he deserves it, because he’s such a spectacular player,” Mission coach Joe Albano said.
The Lions largely struggled on offense and had 12 plays that went for negative yardage.