With only three minutes remaining in an otherwise lackluster first half, Mission High senior captain Darius Grays took charge. Snatching the ball from the grasp of Marshall’s quarterback, Grays rumbled 40 yards down field into the end zone for a rare touchdown by a defensive end.
There was no looking back for the Bears, who went on to score 26 points in the third quarter en route to a 46-0 blowout of Thurgood Marshall Academic High School on Saturday.
“It’s just great for him,” Mission coach Joe Albano said. “It’s kind of fun for a D-lineman/O-lineman to get a touchdown. It’s something he’ll never forget for the rest of his life.”
It was the Bears’ first league game, and Grays hoped that such a decisive win would make a statement that Mission High School is a force to be reckoned with in San Francisco prep football.
“We just set the standard,” Grays said. “We want all the other schools out there to see what’s going on and let them know to bring their A-game when they play Mission.”
The Bears overcame a sluggish first half in which the Marshall Phoenix moved the ball well but couldn’t punch it into the end zone. Minutes into the game, Marshall drove into the red zone, but were stymied by the stalwart Mission defensive line after gaining a first and goal at Mission’s eight-yard line.
“We kind of let up some yards in the beginning,” Albano said. “Marshall had a good first drive and we were able to hold them up, and then we were able to pick it up in the second half.”
Mission quarterback and senior Davon Hargraves did it all on offense for the Bears. With six minutes left in the third quarter, Hargraves dove in after a short run for his first touchdown of the day. Less than a minute later, Hargraves, on the other side of the ball at safety, ran back an interception for a 60-yard touchdown.
He capped off his dominant performance with a 40-yard strike to wide receiver Demitrius Thibeaux on the last play of the third quarter.
“We figured out their personnel and what they like to do,” Hargraves said. “We just made adjustments and we picked it up in the second half.”
Mission opened things up in the second half by going wide instead of up the middle, succeeding in spreading out Marshall’s defense and finding holes to run through.
Their longest run of the day came at the start of the third quarter, when Hargraves cut to the right and then pitched the ball off to senior running back Algeron Malbrough, who cut back inside and scampered 40 yards down the middle of the field and into the end zone.
“Joe [Albano] is doing a good job over there with those kids,” Marshall assistant coach Carl Sullivan said. “They are building that program up…. I am happy to see those kids progressing and coming out strong.”
While Mission’s offense dominated in the second half, Grays acknowledged the importance of playing hard throughout the entire game to maintain the shutout.
“I think we played with a lot of heart,” Grays said. “We went all the way to the end. I give a lot of credit to our second team, because they held them and there’s still a zero on the board.”
After going undefeated in the Academic Athletic Association regular season last year, the Bears were upset in the first round of the playoffs, dashing their hopes of playing for the league championship at Kezar Stadium.
If Saturday’s win is any indicator, Mission’s senior-led squad is well on its way to a run for the league championship once again.
“I think this is the start for big things to come for Mission,” Hargraves said.