LOS BANOS — Joe Menzel’s Colin Kaepernick impersonation wasn’t pretty. Nor did it count.
With 29.8 seconds left in the first half at Los Banos’ Loftin Stadium, the Manteca High quarterback faked a handoff to Michael Gonzalez on a read-option play. Multiple Los Banos defenders piled on Gonzalez as whistles blew.
About 15 yards downfield, however, was Menzel. Not the fleetest of athletes, but the fake was so good that he even deked the officials. He strolled toward the end zone, ball in hand, with open field in front of him but to no avail.
The play, which would have resulted in a 70-yard touchdown, was dead. No matter, because at that point so was Los Banos’ spirits.
The Buffaloes went into halftime with a 20-7 lead and left town with a resounding 42-7 victory. They did it not with big-play scores but with time-consuming drives.
Having that one called back was somewhat of a bummer, though.
“A little bit, but it doesn’t matter,” Menzel said. “We throw in some new stuff just to keep teams off balance. We came out in the second half and really responded. We were clicking on all cylinders and it shows what we can do.”
Menzel settled for 14 yards on four rushes, but his damage was done through the short and intermediate passing game. He was 16 of 21 for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Jacob LeDon’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:40 to go in the contest enforced a running clock. He also had receiving touchdowns of 12 and 5 yards and was Menzel’s top receiver for the night, finishing with six catches for 69 yards. Tight end Michael Hatfield had four receptions go for 63 yards.
“He’s a big boy with speed,” Menzel said of LeDon. “He’s going to be real good for us, and we plan on using him a lot.”
The Buffaloes (2-1) rushed for 174 yards on 42 carries. Michael Gonzalez bulled his way to 55 yards and a TD on 12 tries. Alex Laurel (11 carries, 42 yards) hit pay dirt twice, including a 6-yard scamper that punctuated the 12-play, 80-yard opening drive that spanned 5 minutes, 16 seconds and set the tone for the game.
“They did everything they could to stop our inside running,” Manteca coach Eric Reis said “They were stunting, blitzing and this and that, so our plan B was to throw it. If they were going to play that aggressively against the run then we’re going to throw it.”
Manteca’s defense pitched a gem.
Los Banos (2-1) totaled 180 yards of offense, but only 107 if you take away a 29-yard run on a punt fake and David Walker’s electric 44-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on back-to-back plays. Walker, a physical 6-foot-3, 195-pound running back who is only a sophomore, reversed fields after the Manteca defense had him bottled up to the left. Down the right sideline he broke a tackle near the 10 and gave the Tigers life as he galloped into the end zone. He finished with 73 yards on 11 attempts and added a 29-yard catch.
“They have a sophomore who is a pretty special back,” Reis said. “We wanted to get hits on him, but in the open field he just makes stuff happen.”
Reis admitted there was concern over the emotional drain coming off last week’s 28-27 overtime loss to powerful Wilcox of Santa Clara. There was added incentive for Manteca on Friday, as it avenged last year’s 42-28 loss to the Tigers.
“Los Banos came into our house last year and gave it to us, so we had a little bit of redemption,” said two-way lineman Billy Sharmoug. “I felt like we should have had a shutout, but this is good momentum for us going into (Valley Oak) league. We have two weeks to prepare for Sonora and get ready to get after it again.”