A season that started with league and section title aspirations ended in heartbreak for San Benito High Friday night. Seemingly in control of its fate, the host Haybalers instead absorbed a crushing 35-28 loss to Milpitas in a Central Coast Section Open Division I playoff semifinal.
“This one is going to sting for a while,” said coach Bryan Smith, whose team would’ve more than likely locked up a NorCal playoff at-large berth with a victory. “It’s going to hurt more than the Palma one because we had this game.”
Indeed, No. 2 seed San Benito (10-2) could taste a spot in next week’s championship game against top-seed Menlo-Atherton. Having run off four consecutive touchdowns after spotting No. 3 seed Milpitas an early 10-0 lead, San Benito had a 28-10 lead after scoring on the first series of the second half.
Jonny Gonzalez returned the second-half kickoff 68 yards to the Milpitas 22-yard line, and on the very next play Hunter Nye went untouched over the left side to give the team an 18-point advantage. However, the Balers failed to deliver the dagger despite the Trojans going three-and-out on its first two drives of the third quarter.
San Benito had a possession sandwiched in between the two Milpitas series in which it started on the Milpitas 49-yard line. But the Balers went three-and-out themselves, costing them a chance to put further distance on a dangerous Milpitas team.
Absolutely, a drive like that (was one of the factors that) cost us at the end of the game,” Smith said. “We had great field position and (not being able to do anything with that) turned the game a little bit.”
Bottom line: The game came down to the Balers not being able to get into the end zone at least one more time in the second half, combined with the inability to stop the Trojans’ potent twin brother combination of quarterback Tyree Bracy and running back Tariq Bracy. Tyree completed 17 of 32 passes for 275 yards, including a 90-yard TD pass on the penultimate score of the game. That made it 28-28 with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.
On the following possession, the Trojans intercepted a Hunter Raquet pass and returned it 25 yards to the San Benito 30. From there, Milpitas took four plays to get into the end zone, capped by a Tariq Bracy 5-yard scoring run with 17 seconds left. The Balers got the ball back on its 36 with 7 seconds to go, and two plays later the game was over.
While the Milpitas sideline erupted in pandemonium, some of the San Benito players collapsed to the ground, wondering what might have been.
“I give Milpitas a lot of credit—they’re a good football team, Smith said. “I knew our guys were ready to play—we just couldn’t hang on. We couldn’t maintain (our momentum) and didn’t get anything going (offensively late in the game). It wasn’t enough tonight—it just wasn’t enough.”
Milpitas turned the tables on a team that is known for finishing strong, as it scored on its last four possessions. In addition to his passing yards, Tyree Bracy rushed for 89 yards on 15 carries, while Tariq rushed for 120 yards on 14 carries while adding 10 catches for 171 yards.
All told, the Bracy brothers accounted for 484 yards of the team’s 501 yards of total offense. The Trojans scored on their first two drives before the Balers made some adjustments and started to take control. The gashed Milpitas on the ground, as Nye finished with 220 yards on 25 carries.
Nye also had a 20-yard TD reception in the second quarter. Raquet was 4 of 7 for 41 yards and a TD in a first half that saw San Benito total 298 yards of offense. However, they were limited to a meager 53 yards of offense in the final two quarters. Meanwhile, Milpitas accumulated 257 yards of offense in the second half.
Balers linebacker Colby Noble recorded a safety after tackling Tyree Bracy in the end zone with 9:45 left in the second quarter. Noble made a textbook tackle on Bracy, who made several would-be tacklers miss throughout the contest. After winning nine straight games to start the season, San Benito lost two of its final three contests.
Despite the loss, Smith said the program will rebound.
“I’m extremely proud of these guys,” he said. “We have a great senior class, and they’ll go on and do great things in life. They’ll be teachers, professionals, fathers, great husbands. This loss will hurt that much more because of it. We’ll be back. It’s going to be tough going into zero block weight training Tuesday, but we have to continue to do the right things.”