The Menlo-Atherton football team didn’t find itself with a deficit in the second half against Eureka in the CIF NorCal Division 3-AA championship game Friday night.
But it still needed heroics by Troy Franklin for the second week in a row to claim a 27-20 victory and a spot in the 3-AA state championship game.
With the game tied at 20 in the fourth quarter, Franklin scored on a 70-yard run with eight minutes, six second to go. That touchdown held up, as the Bears are headed to their second state title game in three years.
Franklin, the dynamic sophomore receiver, scored three touchdowns Friday night. Last week, he produced the game-winning touchdown on a 17-yard run with 3:33 left in a 33-28 comeback win over top-seed Wilcox in the Central Coast Section Open Division I championship game.
After Eureka (12-1) took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter at McKinleyville High, Franklin produced a long touchdown to tie the score. He then caught a 13-yard touchdown reception as the Bears took a 14-7 first-quarter lead.
A five-yard run by Deston Hawkins was the only score in the second quarter, as the Bears entered halftime with a 20-7 advantage.
But Eureka slowly chipped away at that lead. The Loggers produced the third quarter’s only touchdown, then tied the score with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter. But 26 seconds later, Franklin scored the eventual game-winning touchdown.
Eureka had a final long drive that got within the Menlo-Atherton 25-yard-line, but the Bears defense stiffened and Eureka turned the ball over on downs with 1:30 to go.
In 2016, Menlo-Atherton also advanced to the 3-AA state title game, where it lost to Paraclete 39-21.
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