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Spartans give Sacramento fits early in final game of season

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Spartans give Sacramento fits early in final game of season

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POSTED November 7, 2009 2:28 a.m.
LATHROP – The young Spartans were once again left with the promise of better days ahead.

With 18 sophomores including nine as starters, Lathrop High did give visiting Sacramento a bit of scare on Friday.

The Spartans (0-9), in fact, went toe-to-toe with the Dragons of the Metropolitan League during the first half of the non-league affair, and even came away with a turnover just seconds before the intermission while trailing by just a point.

Sacramento (5-4) quickly turned its misfortune to an opportunity, with Genesis Grimes intercepting a pass and racing 68 yards for the score.

From there, the Dragons went on for the 42-13 win.

“As a young team, we’re prone to make mistakes,” Lathrop coach Jesse Rodriguez said.

He added, “We shot ourselves in the foot.”

The Spartans, playing the final game of their inaugural varsity season, made things exciting early on by taking advantage of good field position. Sacramento, on its first possession, was forced to punt after being held deep in Lathrop territory.

The Spartans orchestrated a 12-play, 53-yard drive, relying on the running of Xavier Walden, Andrew Aquino, and Dennis Johnson.

Aquino’s 7-yard touchdown run coupled with the extra-point kick by Wilmer Alvarez gave Lathrop a 7-0 first-quarter advantage.

Lathrop appeared to be back in business after a fumble recovery by Anthony Higareda. But on the ensuing play, Sacramento returned the favor as Grimes picked off a pass and went 63 yards for the score.

Still, the Spartans held a slight lead following a missed conversion try by the Dragons.

Lathrop coughed the ball away late in the first quarter, setting up Sacramento’s next score.

It took just two plays before Dragon quarterback Jonathan Kodama hooked up with Arturo Amaya on a 21-yard scoring strike.

Lathrop’s Dayton Brown recovered a fumble, setting up Elijah Cash’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Greg Hawkins.

Sacramento maintained its slight edge by blocking the extra-point kick.

Down 14-13, the Spartans committed yet another turnover shortly before half time, with Jarvis Johnson coming up with the interception.

But Grimes’ second pick of the game turned into another score for Sacramento.

Instead of trailing by a point, Lathrop was down 20-13 at the intermission.

The Spartans held a statistical edge for the first two quarters, outgaining Sacramento in total yards, 141-57.

But all that changed in the second half.

The Dragons unleashed running back Matthew Ajayi, who picked up 36 yards on his first carry of the third quarter.

Jalen Angel-White gained 15 more on a draw play. Ajayi, who had a game-high 89 yards on eight carries, capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

Jarvis Johnson’s pass coverage on the two-point pass attempt kept Lathrop within striking distance.

But the Spartans hardly touched the ball in the second half, with Sacramento relying on its depth and consistent running attack to finally wear down the upstart squad.

“We’ll get better,” Rodriguez promised. “As a team, we made some progress during the year.”

In fact, he’s already looking forward to next year when his Spartans will be part of the reconfigured Valley Oak League.
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