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Back-up QB leads drubbing of upset-minded Lathrop
Mantecas Austin Welch (43) and Devyn Gonzales (31) catch Lathrop quarterback Diego Chavez as he scrambles during the first half of Fridays contest at Guss Schmiedt Field. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Not even the lingering impacts of last week’s Valley Oak League showdown with Central Catholic could keep the Manteca Buffaloes from returning to their winning ways.

With starting quarterback Dakarai Charles out with a concussion suffered during the matchup with the Raiders, Manteca turned to sophomore Gino Campiotti to lead the offense to start Friday’s game at Guss Schmiedt Field.

And lead he did.

It took the Buffaloes just over four minutes to drive 65 yards for the game’s first score and set a tempo that Manteca would ride to a 42-7 thrashing of Lathrop that sets up next week’s contest against undefeated Oakdale.

Campiotti, who has seen time on the field this season prior to Friday’s contest, was 6-of-10 passing for 115 yards and three touchdowns in the first half – strikes coming from 24, 7 and 60 yards out respectively. The early success against a much-improved Lathrop squad helped, he said, set the tone.

“We made some small adjustments they’re a team that flies to the ball and we had some good play-calling to counter that,” Campiotti said. “The first half for us was all big plays and those plays sparked the entire team.

“Being able to come out and go up 14-0 really lit up the entire team and we knew right then that it was our game to take.”

Lathrop (4-4, 2-3 VOL) was already down 28-0 at the half and an attempt at pulling itself out of the hole fell short on the team’s opening drive of the second half after Manteca’s Daniel Brand recovered a Jacob Devita fumble that Manteca (7-1, 4-1) would take down to the Spartans’ 21-yard line.

It was there that Campiotti threw the first of his two interceptions, but Lathrop couldn’t manage to do anything with the opportunity – adding a pair of interceptions thrown by quarterback Diego Chavez and a fumble by Marcos Ramos to the list of mistakes that kept growing as the night went on.

“Whatever could go wrong out there tonight went wrong,” Lathrop had coach Joey Pirillo said. “The kids played their hearts out but they made a lot of mistakes at the same time.

“You can’t make mistakes against a very good opponent because you’ll never get a chance to recover.”

Finding the end zone for the Buffaloes Friday night were wide receivers Jose Garcia – who pulled in the first two Campiotti strikes of the night – and Ronaldo Tijero, who took a short pass 60-yards to give Manteca a three score lead. The running back trio of Marcus Rivas, Kameron Beamon and Darrion Kitson rushed for a combined 284 yards and each broke the plane once.

Lathrop didn’t score until  midway through the fourth quarter when Jacari Thompson took handoff through the core of the Manteca defense. Michael Ramos, who finished with 105 yards on 17 carries, did the bulk of the work on the lone Spartan scoring drive.

Being able to rebound from a loss to VOL powerhouse Central Catholic was something that Coach Eric said was important coming into Friday’s contest, but that the team didn’t overlook an upstart Lathrop program that has wins over quality teams like Ripon and Liberty Ranch.

“Any time that you can put points on the board on the drive you’re going to get traction and that’s what we did tonight,” Manteca Eric Reis said. “They were a confident that came in here tonight and we treated them like that – this wasn’t something that we were going to take lightly and I think respecting them made a difference.

“We have a team of players and we’ve talked all year about making sure that guys can step in and fill the roles when they need to,” Reis added. “We hate losing, and we’ve been looking at every game like it’s a playoff game. We came out tonight and got it done against a good Lathrop team and now we get a chance to play in another huge game for Week 9.

“That’s how we look at things.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.