Balers running back Kyle Cameron pulls away on a first quarter, 65-yard touchdown run against Menlo-Atherton in CCS play Friday night in Atherton. It was the first of two touchdown the senior scored in the first half.

ATHERTON — Lesser teams might have wilted, but not San Benito.
In the opening round of the Central Coast Section Open Division I playoffs, the fifth-seeded Balers were tested time and time again during the fourth quarter at No. 4 Menlo-Atherton.
And while a vulnerable secondary didn’t grade out at A-plus, last year’s CCS Division I champs certainly knew how to pass the final test in a 21-19 victory.
“It was a total battle out here tonight,” San Benito coach Chris Cameron said. “I thought we did a really good job of just hanging in there and keep fighting.”
That attitude was embodied by two of the co-captains for the Balers. Senior middle linebacker Tyler Biersdorff intercepted a pass at the goal line on the third play of the fourth quarter, while senior cornerback Andrew Sotelo preserved the win with a pick in the corner of the end zone with 2:34 left.
“He slid to that side and I watched him read the quarterback’s eyes,” Cameron said. “He knew where the ball was going, just jumped up and caught it at it’s highest point. That kid is playing with a broken bone in his knee, too. He’s having surgery right after the season.”
“We just made mental mistakes in critical situations and they didn’t,” M-A coach Adhir Ravipati said. “They kept their composure the whole game. That’s a testament to an established program. Coach Cameron has been there for 17 years (actually 23), they’re well drilled, they know what they’re going to do come playoff time.”
San Benito faces top-seeded Bellarmine Prep (10-1) at San Jose City College in next week’s semifinals.
The Balers held a slim 14-13 edge at halftime, the difference a missed extra point. M-A took advantage of a fumble recovery inside the red zone to jump out to a 7-0 lead, but San Benito answered a minute later as Kyle Cameron ripped off a 65-yard touchdown off the edge.
The speedy junior later had a 61-yard touchdown negated by a penalty, but still managed to find the end zone on a 10-yard pass from R.J. Clark to make it 14-7 with 9:59 left in the second quarter. Cameron gained 151 yards on 11 carries.
A surprise onside kick to open the second half backfired on M-A (6-4), tri-champion of the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division. The Balers marched 49 yards on seven plays, extending its halftime lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Hunter Nye, who was later lost to a separated shoulder.
But after a three-and-out, San Benito was looking for more when it coughed up the ball a mere 3 yards from the goal line.
“As soon as we lost that fumble, it really changed the momentum right there,” Cameron said. “We could have put the lights out at that point and time. But, you know, they’re a good football team and we knew that coming in here. We’re playing a league champion.”
M-A found the end zone with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter after inserting its backup quarterback to run a spread offense. San Benito stuffed the two-point try to remain ahead.
“We bent a lot, but we didn’t break,” San Benito coach Chris Cameron said. “We put our defense in some bad situations with some turnovers of our own, and I think our guys responded well.”
San Benito 7 7 7 0 — 21
Menlo-Atherton 7 6 0 6 — 19
First quarter
MA — Mims 9 run (Calderon kick), 7:20
SB — Cameron 65 run (Miranda good), 6:20
Second quarter
SB — Cameron 10 pass from Clark (Miranda good), 9:59
MA — Mims 1 run (kick blocked), 4:03
Third quarter
SB — Nye 9 run (Miranda good), 9:51
Fourth quarter
MA — Stanley 10 pass from Johnson (run failed), 5:50
RUSHING—San Benito, Cameron 11-151, Green 10-64, Nye 11-59, Rodriguez 5-6, Clark 6-3. Menlo-Atherton, Mims 8-37, Johnson 3-23, Reid 4-4, Papadakis 7-3, Conrad 2-(-6).
PASSING—San Benito, Clark 7-11-0 53. Menlo-Atherton, Conrad 14-21-2 167, Johnson 4-5-1 66.
RECEIVING—San Benito, Nye 2-26, Tomasini 2-10, Cameron 1-10, Rodriguez 1-5, Hopkins 1-2. Menlo-Atherton, Mims 7-118, Reid 4-68, Stanley 4-33, Tussing 1-10, Friedsam 1-3, Papadakis 1-1.
Records: San Benito 7-4; Menlo-Atherton 6-5.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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