ANTELOPE —Manteca got a dose of its own medicine Friday night and it did not taste very well, as the fifth-seeded defending champion got handled by No. 4 Antelope 20-8 in second-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Despite the anemic start by Manteca (8-4) — at one point, the Titans (7-4) had 30 offensive plays to just six for the Buffaloes — it came within inches of scoring twice but came up empty both times.
In the closing seconds of the first half, due in part to two pass interference calls and two defensive holding calls on Antelope, Manteca found itself with first-and-goal from the Titans 3-yard line. Trabron Russell got the call and appeared to be stopped just short of the goal line when the pile moved into the end zone.
But the touchdown was negated by a 15-yard penalty for assisting the runner, killing that drive and letting the Titans keep a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Late in the third quarter with the Buffaloes trailing 20-8 and facing fourth and goal from the 3, Ryan Ward spotted Miguel Sequeira with what looked to be a touchdown pass. Although Sequeira was in the end zone, it was ruled that ball did not cross the plane. That was as close as Manteca would come to scoring for the rest of the night.
A force at receiver for Manteca all year, Jorge Cedano (783 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns) had just two catches for 23 yards Friday. That was due to tight coverage — sometimes too tight. Cedano drew four defensive holding and pass-interference penalties, two of which were in the end zone.
“He leads the league in drawing pass-interference penalties,” Buffaloes coach Mark Varnum said of Cedano. “But the bottom line is we just didn’t execute our stuff tonight. In any game, especially the playoffs, you can’t overcome getting two touchdowns called back. You can’t overcome the mistakes we made tonight.
“I hate to go out like that, but like I told the guys, we beat ourselves. That’s hard to swallow sometimes, but that’s how we feel. I just feel really bad for the seniors.”
Antelope delivered the knockout blow with 2:54 left in the third quarter. Facing third-and-long, Nathan Lucero (11 of 17 passing, 152 yards) spotted Zion Henley (five receptions, 107 yards) behind the Manteca defense and for a 67-yard touchdown.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Titans coach Matt Ray said. “We knew the tradition that they have and the success they have had over the last five years. Coach (Varnum) has done an amazing job — I know it’s his first year — and we knew we were going to have to battle all the way through.
“This game was exactly what we thought it would be, physical, and we were going to have to execute and take it from them, because they were not going to give it to us.”
Ryan Ward (11 of 23 passing, 130 yards, three interceptions) got the Buffaloes on the board when he capped off an 11-play, 66-yard drive to start the second half with a 1-yard scoring plunge. Russell’s conversion run made the score 14-8, only for Lucero to drop the hammer 4 minutes later with his long scoring pass to Henley.
Hampered by an ankle injury, Manteca’s Jacob DeJesus had four receptions for 41 yards.
Manteca 0 0 8 0 — 8
Antelope 7 7 6 0 — 20
A —Nathan Lucero 1 run (Ben Moreno kick), 7:23.
A—Savaughn Bradley 5 run (Ben Moreno kick), 6:38.
M—Ryan Ward 1 run (Trabron Russell run), 6:46.
A—Zion Henley 67 pass from Lucero (kick failed), 2:54.