Thunder and lightning threatened to cancel Friday’s football game between Manteca and visiting Edison.
The game went on, but the thunder and lightning — in the form of Manteca’s big-hitting defense and big-play passing attack — hit Guss Schmiedt Field anyway.
Quarterback Alex Martinez engineered two touchdown drives in the first quarter, and the defense handled the rest in a 16-6 win for the 2-0 Buffaloes.
Edison fell to 0-2, opening its season with a 35-13 road loss to Paradise — the top-ranked team out of the North Section.
“A lot of speed and athleticism — that’s what we thought we’d get from Edison. We got a good test tonight,” said Manteca coach Eric Reis, whose squad routed Galt 55-7 in Week 1.
“They played Paradise really tough last week. It was really deceiving; it was 21-13 in the third quarter against one of the top teams in Northern California. We took them very seriously, and I’m pretty happy with the performance.”
Especially on defense.
Manteca was able to clamp down on Edison’s slick and slippery signal caller, Lashawn Jameison in the second half, when the Vikings were held to 40 total yards of offense.
Jameison accounted for most of Edison’s 132 yards, throwing for 61 on 6-of-12 passing and rushing for 65 on 11 carries. The Vikings were limited to just five first downs all game and had two turnovers.
“Coach James (defensive coordinator Rick James) prepared us great this week,” said Manteca inside linebacker Joe Trout. “Everything that went down, he prepared us for it. We were just in the right place and we got the job done.”
Manteca made only two glaring mistakes on defense, both in the first quarter. In fairness, the second wasn’t entirely the defense’s fault.
The Buffaloes dodged a bullet on Edison’s first drive when Jameison hit Keyth Hart for a 45-yard touchdown, but that was called back by a block-in-the-back penalty. Two plays later, defensive back Anthony Lopez recovered a fumble to give Manteca possession.
Manteca parlayed the turnover into a 65-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Eric Ceja, stretching its early lead to 14-0.
Edison went three and out on its next series, but the Vikings got the ball right back after linebacker Stephan Adams forced a fumble with a jarring hit behind the line of scrimmage.
That set Edison up on Manteca’s 9, and Jameison went knifed his way into the end zone untouched on the next play. Those were the last of Edison’s points, as Lopez blocked the PAT.
Manteca could only muster three more points, a 25-yard field goal by Matt Kuhnlenz with 3:34 left in the third quarter, but that doesn’t mean the offense wasn’t productive.
The Buffaloes controlled the second half by dominating possession, running 32 plays from scrimmage to Edison’s 17. Linebacker Anthony Hernandez’s impressive interception on the first play of Edison’s second third-quarter drive provided a boost.
Trout iced the game for good with a 12-yard catch on fourth-and-7 with a minute and a half remaining.
“The second half is our half,” Trout said.
Trout finished with 52 yards on five receptions out of the backfield, while Ceja followed his big Week-1 effort with 133 on six. Against Galt, he turned four catches into 128 yards and a score.
Martinez ended up completing 15 of 22 passes for 212 yards.
“We spent a lot of time at practice working on the fundamentals,” Ceja said of his developing rapport with Martinez. Neither were starters last year.
“We’re playing well, but we have to keep working at it,” Ceja added. “We can’t get big-headed.”
Manteca used seven different rushers to pile up 115 yards, most of them coming from Danny Gouveia’s 82 on 12 touches. He scored the team’s first TD from 6 yards out with 7:13 to go in the opening quarter.
“We know we don’t have a Robert Ladiges, but we know we have four or five guys who run the ball really well and can do different stuff,” Reis said, referencing Manteca’s 2010 star running back who once had 47 carries in a single game. “Our game plan is to rotate backs in and keep them rolling at people.”
The Buffaloes were without their lone returning starter on the offensive line, left guard J.T. Agbulos, who was out with an ankle injury.
Edison took advantage, especially at the start. Five-foot-10, 280-pound nose guard Anthony Murray (sack), 5-10, 290-pound Junior Liku and Ephran Flores (two sacks) are not just big and strong, but surprising nimble for their size.
“We knew we were going to be in some trouble, but that’s another reason for us to feel proud about getting this win,” Reis said.