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In a battle between the No. 1 offensive team in the Central Coast Section and the No. 1 defensive team, it was Sacred Heart Prep's defense that proved too tough to beat as the No. 2-seeded Gators handed No. 4 Menlo School a 13-7 defeat in the CCS Division IV championship game on a rainy Saturday night at Terra Nova High in Pacifica.
It was SHP's second section title in three years, the first coming in 2010, while the Knights suffered their second title-game loss since 2009.
Sacred Heart Prep got two interceptions from senior Jack Del Santo, the second coming 1:14 left in the game, to seal the victory and improve to 12-1 -- the best football record in school history. The Knights, meanwhile, finished 10-3.
Menlo came into the game having scored 580 points this season, an average of 48.3 points per game. Junior quarterback Jack Heneghan had thrown 33 touchdown passes with only three interceptions, operating out of Menlo's wide-open run and shoot offense.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, had allowed just 114 points for an average of 9.5 per game.
Heneghan did get his 34th touchdown pass of the season, an eight-yarder to Matt Bradley on a third-and-3 situation in the second quarter. That held up for a 7-0 halftime lead on a night where the rainy weather played a big factor in the game's outcome.
Heneghan was just 6-of-20 passing for 68 yards with three interceptions. Five of the six interceptions he threw this season came in the two losses to the Gators.
Sacred Heart Prep bounced back from an unproductive first half to tie the game at 7 following a 65-yard drive. The Gators ran the ball 13 times, with sophomore Ben Burr Kirven finishing it off with a one-yard run with 5:33 left in third quarter.
The game remained that way until Sacred Heart Prep put together another impressive drive, marching 73 yards on 13 plays, all runs, with senior quarterback Kevin Donahoe finishing it off with an 11-yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed, giving Menlo hope.
The Knights got one last chance late in the fourth quarter when Bradley broke through the line and threw Burr Kirven for a three-yard loss on a fourth-and 3 from the Menlo 7. Menlo took over with 2:13 left to play.
Heneghan connected on back-to-back passes, threw an incomplete, but the Knights picked up five yards when the Gators were caught offsides. After an incomplete pass that was nearly picked off by SHP's Patrick Tinsley, Heneghan ran eight yards for a first down at the Gators' 49.
With time running out, Heneghan overthrew his receiver and Del Santo was there to pick it off. He made a nice, long return deep into Menlo territory before Donahoe took a few knees to run out the clock.
Sacred Heart Prep weathered the stormy weather with 244 rushing yards. Andrew Segre led the Gators with 136 yards rushing on 23 carries. Burr Kirven added 63 yards on 13 hauls, 11 coming in the second half.
Paul Westcott led the defense with 10 tackles while Patrick Finnigan and Burr Kirven had eight tackles each. Nick Salzman had an interception to help complete the solid defensive effort by the Gators.
Saturday's title game was the fourth time the neighborhood rivals have faced each other in the CCS playoffs. In all four, the winner turned out to be the team that captured the annual Valparaiso Bowl during the regular season. SHP rallied to beat Menlo in the Valpo Bowl this season, 31-28, and beat the Knights on two other postseason occasions after winning the "bowl" game.