Two plays, 129 yards and two touchdowns — and that was just the start for Manteca on Friday night.
By the time the dust settled at Guss Schmiedt Field, the Buffaloes racked up eight first-half touchdowns on the way to a running-clock second half and a 64-6 thumping of Lathrop in non-league football action.
“Our whole thing is to start fast,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “Start fast, play clean and look like a veteran team that has high aspirations and we did. We didn’t make any of the mistakes a lot of teams make in week one.”
The fast start came just 17 seconds into the game when Aiden Nicolas cut off tackle and rambled 61 yards for a score. With 4:18 left in the first half, Nicolas (three carries, 121 yards, two touchdowns) raced 52 yards for another score and the game’s third touchdown in 45 seconds, making the score 56-6.
“That first play got us pumped up,” Nicolas said. “Our coaches have been telling us how we needed to execute on the first play of the game.
“The linemen did it for me. I really appreciated them tonight.”
Ryan Ward (7 of 8 passing, 273 yards, four touchdowns) ignited the late second-quarter scoring blitz with his second touchdown throw to Jacob De Jesus (two receptions, 118 yards, two touchdowns), this one good for 77 yards with 4:53 left in the first half.
“On the first one I actually didn’t think my route was too good,” De Jesus said. “But I was just wide open.
“On the second one Sunny Dozier got a big block for me and then I just did what I do, made a few cuts and ran it all the way.”
The Spartans (0-1) wasted little time in responding when Joey Sanchis (three receptions, touchdown, 116 yards) pulled in a 77-yard pass from Davis Raya-Ruiz (10 of 21 passing, 208 yards, touchdown, interception) to make the score 50-6 with 4:35 remaining in the second quarter. Nicolas’ 52-yard scamper came just 17 seconds later.
Dozier (three receptions, 113 yards, two touchdowns) had a pair of 33-yard touchdown catches from Ward. Dy’lon Valentine bolted 68 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the game for the Buffaloes (1-0). Evans Nicolas added a 5-yard touchdown run and Sonny Elder capped the night’s scoring with a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.
“We have been working on our routes since January,” Ward said. “We started off with a big win tonight and I am excited for the season.
“I felt free back there. The line has been doing a good job and gave me a lot of time so the receivers and I could do our job.”
Midway through the second quarter, Lathrop had just 54 yards of offense before Raya-Ruiz caught fire. The Spartans nearly had another score when they reached the 1-yard line but penalties and mistakes cost them that opportunity.
“(Lathrop) coach (Joe) Pirillo has his guys working hard and I think they are going to do some good stuff in their league,” Varnum said. “Their quarterback is a player. I think they are going to make some noise and score some points down the road.”
Pirillo used this game as a tool to get better.
“We just found out what a very physical football team looks like,” Pirillo said. “That was a really, really big test for us and we have a lot of work to do.
“We need to find a way to match the intensity we faced tonight. We are going to learn from our mistakes in this one and move on to next week.”
There were only two turnovers in the game — an interception by Sanchis on the last play of the third quarter and another by Valentine to start the fourth.
A scheduling quirk leaves Manteca with just four home games this season, and the Buffaloes begin three tough road games in a row next week as part of a brutal five-game stretch, traveling to Modesto to face Downey followed Granada of Livermore and then Tracy. It does not get any easier as Manteca opens Valley Oak play on Friday, Sept. 20, playing host to Central Catholic and then following a bye travels to Oakdale on Friday, Oct. 4.
“We know our real season starts next week,” Varnum said. “And we have to go to work.”
Lathrop 0 6 0 0 — 6
Manteca 29 27 0 8 — 64
M—Aiden Nicolas 61 run (Kevin Thornburg kick), 11:43
M—Dy’lon Valentine 68 run (Nicolas run), 9:23
M—Jacob De Jesus 41 pass from Ryan Ward (Thornburg kick), 5:31
M—Sunny Dozier 33 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 1:36
M—Evans Nicolas 5 run (Thornburg kick), 11:46
M—Dozier 33 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 8:23
M—De Jesus 77 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 4:53
L—Joey Sanchis 73 pass from Davis Raya-Ruiz (run fail), 4:34
M—Aiden Nicolas 52 run (kick fail), 4: 18
M—Sonny Elder 1 run (Victor Martinez run), 6:08