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Menlo-Atherton beats Eureka in NorCal final

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.

Menlo-Atherton (12-2) will face Lincoln-San Diego (11-4) on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. The site has not been published yet by the California Interscholastic Federation.

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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