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BUFFALOES BUCKLE LATE

Casa Roble erases 25-point second-half lead to win

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BUFFALOES BUCKLE LATE

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POSTED November 21, 2009 2:16 a.m.
Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener between No. 8 Manteca and No. 9 Casa Roble at Guss Schmiedt Field didn’t start out to be the game it was anticipated to be.

The visiting Rams from Orangevale not just made it a game by clawing back from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit; they made it an improbable finish to remember.

Working off a sudden burst of energy from an onside kick and a fake punt on fourth-and-long, Casa Roble stunned Manteca 35-28 after being thoroughly outplayed for 2 ½ quarters.

Quarterback Justin Tann (22 of 41, 357 yards, two TDs, one rushing) spearheaded the wild comeback with a huge second-half effort, and punishing running back Anthony Santiago (20 rushes, 102 yards, two TDs) eclipsed the century mark on the game-winning 7-yard rush with 11.4 seconds remaining after he was held in check in the first half.

Casa Roble (7-4) will look to take that momentum into its second-round meeting with top-seeded Inderkum of Sacramento.

Undefeated Inderkum, which thumped No. 16 Rodriguez 47-7 Friday, will have revenge in mind after losing 27-21 to Casa Roble in the 2008 Division III section championship game.

“That’s a section championship team and we had them on the ropes,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “When you have someone on the ropes you have to knock them out.

“We didn’t finish them and let them stick around. Once the momentum changed it was a much different game. We didn’t knock them out when we had to, and next thing you know we’re tapping out.”

The finishing blow appeared to be Marquis Miller’s third of three touchdowns 7:24 left in the third quarter, when the Buffaloes (7-4) staked the 28-3 lead. He highlighted Manteca’s impressive start, as he rambled for TD runs of 60 and 71 yards in the first quarter and ended up with 226 yards on 24 rushes.

Staggered by the touchdown, Casa Roble recovered quickly and began chipping away.

Scott Patalano recovered an onside kick with 3:36 to go following Alex Jungsten’s 36-yard field goal. Patalano was just getting started, and so were the Rams.

Santiago scored from 2 yards out late in the quarter, and Tann hit Chris Tirrell in the back of the end zone to cut the deficit in half, 28-14.

Midway through the fourth, Manteca’s defense did its job by holding Casa Roble in what was thought be a three-and-out series.

The Rams lined up in punt formation on fourth-and-10 from their own 26, but Patalano, also the team’s punter and standout safety, tossed it to Tommy Crosbie for a 23-yard gain and the first down.

“We’re kind of no-holds barred — the onside kick, fake punt,” Casa Roble coach Norman Ryan said. “We do whatever we have to do to put our kids in position to win a football game. Tonight, we lucked out.”

Two plays later, Patalano made a breath-taking diving catch on a 31-yard scoring play. Manteca’s Jacob Salas blocked the ensuing point-after kick, but it didn’t matter.

“Even though they blocked the kick, at that point you can see the emotion had turned,” Ryan said. “The emotion was on our sideline with us, and their sideline was dead. We got really into it.”

Tann later tied it with a 2-yard touchdown run and rushed in the 2-point conversion with 1:30 left.

Manteca went three-and-out on the next drive in which two different receivers dropped perfect passes from quarterback Matt Burrows. Burrows was then sacked for a 5-yard loss to force a punt.

Burrows, who started, and senior Matt Barber combined to complete seven of 13 passes for 99 yards, but four of their five incompletions were drops.

“We couldn’t sustain our offense,” Reis said. “Once we had chances we dropped the ball. You just can’t do that. We had to make the plays to get the momentum back and couldn’t do it.”

Patalano’s big second half ended with a 30-yard catch at the Manteca 7 with 40 seconds to go, setting up Santiago’s deciding touchdown.

Patalano finished with 99 yards on five receptions. D.J. Muses caught seven passes for 104 yards, and Crosbie had six for 116.

The final play of the game was a hook and lateral starting with a toss to Reggie Bell who dumped it off to Anthony May. May was stopped at the 50-yard line for a 16-yard gain as time expired.

“Obviously it’s devastating,” Reis said. “You pour so much of yourself into the program and into these games, and to have a lead like that and blow it hurts.”
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