ATHERTON – Time was running out Saturday on Christopher’s season.
On a muddy field that brought back images of football’s glorious past, their gold numbers barely visible on dirt-stained white jerseys, the visitors from Gilroy trailed Menlo School by 17 points with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Cougars were about to give the ball back to Menlo, too, facing third-and-17 from their own 21 after the home team accepted a penalty rather than give Christopher a more manageable fourth down.
Jaxen Robinson, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Christopher quarterback, dropped back to pass and threw deep to speedy receiver Amari Bluford, the playmaker who ignited the Cougars’ late rally in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs last week against Archbishop Mitty with a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD.
This time, Bluford caught Robinson’s pass for a 79-yard touchdown that set the stage for a stunning comeback that ended with eighth-seeded Christopher winning 21-17 to advance to the championship game next week against second-seeded Soquel.
Fifth-seeded Menlo finished 10-2.
“Down 17-0 and coming back like that, it’s like a Cinderella story for us,” Robinson said. “We worked too hard for this, since January, February in the weight room. It’s just amazing to see all the pieces connecting and going to the championship next week.”
Christopher’s Amari Bluford (3) celebrates after a play during the 2nd half of the Menlo vs Christopher Central Coast Section Division II semifinal football game at Menlo School in Atherton, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (Thien-An Truong for Bay Area News Group)
Robinson’s 24-yard pass to Evan Vernon cut the margin to 17-14 with 6:55 to go and then the quarterback showed a few minutes later that he’s more than a pocket passer.
The big guy tucked the ball under his arm and rumbled through the defense and into the clear, his 35-yard run accounting for the touchdown that put Christopher in front 21-17 with 4:52 left.
“I am going to be completely honest, it did not feel real,” Robinson said. “I saw the opening, ran and broke off a couple of tackles.”
Nothing like a little improvisation to extend the season.
Christopher head coach Darren Yafai walks to his players after his team beat Menlo in a Coast Section Division II semifinal football game at Menlo School in Atherton, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (Thien-An Truong for Bay Area News Group)
“We don’t like him to run because he’s a pocket passer,” coach Darren Yafai said. “But he’s a beast. He’s 6-5 and 220 pounds and a great athlete. He bugs us every day. ‘Coach, turn me loose. Let me run.’ That wasn’t even a call. That was just him.”
Bluford intercepted a tipped pass on Menlo’s next possession.
After Christopher gave the ball back to Menlo, the home team had 63 seconds to turn the bitter taste into a memorable finish.
It wasn’t to be for Menlo.
Mikey McGrath connected with Nicholas Scacco on a crossing route for 16 yards to the Christopher 37. The quarterback hustled to the line …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment