Defense leads the way as Falcons defeat Palo Alto 35-21 in Homecoming game

October 7, 2016 — by Siva Sambasivam

SHS pulls down a key league victory.

Coming into their Homecoming game on Sept. 30, the Falcons were 4-2, but were plagued with injuries.

Sitting on the sidelines was star defensive end Aaron Vogel, who was forced to stay out with a sprained ACL injury he suffered the week before in the Falcons lopsided loss to Milpitas. Cornerback Daelan Denenberg also suffered an injury against Milpitas, separating his sternoclavicular joint and fracturing his clavicle, but was still in the starting lineup against Palo Alto.  With the Falcon’s defense undermanned, it looked to be an uphill battle for the Falcons.

In the end, though, Tthe Falcons defense carried them to a 35-21 victory against Palo Alto on Sept. 30, with six sacks, an interception and only 14 points allowed, while on the offensive end, wide receiver Kian Ghelichkhani led the way with 12 receptions, 176 yards and three touchdowns, along with quarterback Will Liddle’s 296 yards, four touchdowns and 70 percent completion percentage.

After the defense came up with a quick three and out to start the game, Liddle had three straight completions, two to Ghelichkhani and one to junior receiver Harrison Fong. However, the Falcons could not cash in on their first drive when kicker Quinn Dozier missed a 32-yard attempt.

The two teams exchanged drives, but it was the Falcons who scored first on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Liddle to Ghelichkhani, setting the tone for the rest of the game. The defense was able to shutout the Vikings for the rest of the first quarter, but Palo Alto put points on the scoreboard in the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7.

After Palo Alto’s score, the Falcons started to dominate on both sides of the ball. The secondary was able to hold off Viking receivers long enough to allow their defensive line to constantly pressure the Vikings quarterback, leading to rushed passes and sacks. The Falcons’ Vogel-less defense was able to shut out the Palo Alto until the middle of the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Saratoga offense kept delivering points, mostly through the air. In response to Palo Alto’s first touchdown, Liddle threw four straight completions to Fong and Ghelichkhani, finishing the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ghelichkhani, giving the Falcons a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Coming out of the half, Liddle led the Falcons down the field 75 yards, capping the drive off with a remarkable 32-yard touchdown pass to Ghelichkhani. On the next drive, Liddle once again threw a perfect 24-yard touchdown pass to Ghelichkhani.

The Falcons defense gave the ball back to Liddle at their own 35 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter. Liddle hit Fong for two consecutive completions, and the Falcons were at their own 49 with only a few seconds left in the quarter.

Saratoga ran the clock out, and at the start of the final quarter, Liddle handed the ball off the running back Nolan Chao, who ran for a 51-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 35-7.

The Vikings made a late-game push with a 7-yard touchdown pass and a pick six in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons were able to hold on for their first league victory. They play at Wilcox on Oct. 7.