A stingy Manteca defense and well-oiled offense kept Tracy on its heals from the opening kickoff to the final buzzer, as the Buffaloes put up 34 unanswered points in the first half on the way to a convincing 54-18 running-clock stunner Friday at Guss Schmiedt Field.
With two straight losses coming into homecoming week, Buffaloes coach Mark Varnum pulled out all the stops beginning with the coin toss, electing to defer to the second half. The gamble paid off, with Tracy (2-2) going three and out and the Manteca following that with a six-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard Miguel Sequeira scoring run. Sequeira finished with 57 yards on six carries.
“We had to change some things,” Varnum said. “And it started right there with the opening kickoff. Instead of taking the ball we let the defense go out there and do its thing and obviously it paid off for us.
“But more than anything the kids came out with energy and heart and they are playing together now. That’s what we have been harping on and talking about, and I promised them that if we did what we could do that dark cloud that has been around for the last few weeks would be lifted, and obviously we lifted it pretty well tonight.”
With Buffaloes running back Trabron Russell sidelined with an ankle injury, the rest of the Buffaloes (2-2) had to step up and step up they did.
Ryan Ward (9 of 12 passing, 165 yards, two touchdowns, interception) directed the offense with precision and poise. His two touchdown passes came on fourth down — one of 14 yards to Kyle Lynch and the other of 20 yards to Jacob DeJesus (five receptions, 81 yards, touchdown; 19 carries, 134 yards, two touchdowns). Both of those fourth-down scoring tosses came in the first-half Manteca scoring blitz.
“Last week there was some confusion and we had all week to fix it,” Ward said. “The linemen took care of business and allowed us and the running backs to do our jobs and execute.
“I can’t wait for next week.”
DeJesus served notice that when Russell returns, teams will have to focus on more than one Buffaloes running back. He tallied 215 all-purpose yards, scoring on runs of 2 and 3 yards in addition to his touchdown reception. DeJesus was part of the stellar defensive effort as well, returning an interception 65 yards in the fourth quarter that set up the final score of the night — a 9-yard run by Alex Gouveia with 6:48 left in the game.
“Tonight, was all about earning respect,” DeJesus said. “Everyone was doubting us. All week we were trying to get our confidence back and get together as a family because we haven’t been together as a family.
“Tonight. everyone did their job, we got together as a family, we executed well and this was the result. We earned respect.”
Chris Ortiz tallied a pair of 2-yard scoring runs for Manteca.
Garren Genilla led a stellar defensive effort for the Buffaloes with three sacks and a forced fumble and fumble recovery on an option pitch.
“We all had our assignments on that play and mine was the quarterback,” Genilla said. “We really executed off that pitch and we all did our assignments and it all worked out.”
Mark Buenrostro added a sack and a blocked punt for the Buffaloes with the blocked punt leading to one of Ortiz’s two touchdowns. De Novious Jordan recovered a fumble, while Evans Nicolas and sophomore call-up Dominic Neuharth each had a sack.
Tracy’s Logan Fife hit Trevion Shadrick-Harris with a pair of touchdown passes — one of 52 yards and another of 37 yards. Elias Williams scored on a 3-yard run for the Bulldogs in the first quarter.
Tracy 6 6 6 0 — 18
Manteca 14 27 6 7 — 54
M — Miguel Sequeira 1 run (Kevin Thornburg kick), 7:54.
T — Elias Williams 3 run (kick fail), 4:37.
M — Chris Ortiz 2 run (Thornburg kick), 1:10.
M — Kyle Lynch 14 pass from Ryan Ward (kick fail), 10:00.
M — Jacob DeJesus 3 run (Thornburg kick), 7:14.
M — DeJesus 20 pass from Ryan Ward (Thornburg kick), 4:49.
M — Ortiz 2 run (Thornburg kick), 1:35.
T — Trevion Shadrick-Harris 52 pass from Logan Fife (kick fail), 0:48.
T — Shadrick-Harris 37 pass from Fife (run fail), 7:17.
M — DeJesus 2 run (kick fail), 4:10.
M — Alex Gouveia 9 run (Thornburg kick), 6:48.