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Buffaloes struggle to contain speedy Celestine

Special teams mistakes also lead to loss

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Buffaloes struggle to contain speedy Celestine

Manteca's Kiefer Haynes wraps up Tracy quarterback Casey Wichman at Wayne Schneider Stadium Friday.

WAYNE THALLANDER/The Bulletin


POSTED September 19, 2009 1:08 a.m.
TRACY — Depray Celestine threw the first blow and landed the finisher in Tracy’s 35-20 victory over Manteca Friday at Wayne Schneider Stadium.

Still anyone’s game at 28-20 with 5:12 remaining, Tracy lined up in punt formation on fourth-and-7 from Manteca’s 35 and called timeout.

The Bulldogs (2-0) returned to the field and again showed punt before realigning into the Wildcat formation with Celestine at quarterback. He took the snap, swept right, broke two tackles and ran by the final defender to race into the end zone for the knockout shot and his third touchdown of the night.

“You have to hand it to Depray Celestine,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said. “We knew he was going to run that play and he made three guys miss — fast guys, too.

“When they called timeout we knew they had a reason, so we had a good indication that they were going to do something like that.”

Celestine (eight rushes, 80 yards), fullback Jordan Strong (12 rushes, 73 yards) and quarterback Casey Wichman (12 rushes, 69 yards, TD; 7-of-13 passing, 48 yards) gave Manteca fits throughout save for a Buffalo-dominated third quarter.

The game started on a sour note for the Buffaloes (1-1) when Jordan Williams jarred the ball loose from Manteca’s Zack Vivit on the 5-yard line during the opening kickoff. Tracy’s Billy Simon pounced on the ball on the Buffalo 8, setting up Celestine’s first touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage.

Manteca answered with Marquis Miller’s 1-yard plunge with 5:30 left in the opening quarter. Miller, who led the Buffaloes with 131 yards on 28 carries, set up the score with big runs on fourth-and-11 and third-and-7 in Tracy territory.

But Miller’s first cousin, Celestine, put Tracy back up with a 97-yard kickoff return.

“Obviously, we have to clean it up and be ready to roll next week,” Reis said of the Buffaloes’ sloppy play on special teams.

The miscues were costly. Both teams were even at 151 yards of total offense from scrimmage in the first half, yet Tracy went into the break ahead 28-14.

To Manteca’s credit, it came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, starting with a three-and-out defensive stand. Quarterback Matt Barber (10-of-22 passing, 59 yards, TD) punctuated the Buffaloes’ ensuing drive — which ate up 4 minutes, 50 seconds off the clock — with a 15-yard scramble.

“The silver lining is that we have it in us to play that kind of football,” Reis said. “They came out and punched us in the nose. When we were at halftime we definitely had that starry look in our eyes.

“I’m happy to see that we have it in us … we answered the bell, I thought.”

Manteca pieced together another time-consuming drive after the defense held the Bulldogs again, but this one ended on downs at the Tracy 16 on the 13th play with 9:38 remaining.

Celestine put the Buffaloes away for good on the next series, but his touchdown jaunt was preceded by his own back-breaking 11- and 12-yard runs after Tracy fumbled on the first play for a second-and-19 from its own 7.

“That team is picked to win the (San Joaquin Athletic Association) this year,” Reis said. “That’s what we wanted to find out and that’s why we play good (teams).

“We have a lot of stuff to work on, and I still think we have a chance to be pretty good.”

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