The last time Manteca beat Oakdale in back-to-back games, Isaac Searcy was not even in school.
On Friday, night Searcy killed potential Mustangs scoring drives at the end of both halves and helped Manteca claim a thrilling 19-14 come-from-behind Valley Oak League win at Guss Schmiedt Field.
With 23 seconds left in the game and the Mustangs (2-1 VOL, 5-2 overall) driving, Searcy stepped in front of a pass and returned it to the Oakdale 3-yard line where the Buffaloes (1-1, 3-3) were able to knee out the clock for the win. In the first half after the Mustangs were awarded an untimed down at the Manteca 20 thanks to a pass interference call, Searcy grabbed the ball off of a teammates foot to thwart a long Oakdale drive.
“Coach (Rick) James told us they were going to be running four verticals,” Searcy said of the end of the game. “I saw the tight end come running out and I knew the play right away. All I had to do was make a jump on the ball and that was it.”
Friday night marked the return of Buffaloes running back Trabron Russell, who has been sidelined nearly a month with a high ankle sprain. Russell shredded the Mustangs defense for 172 yards on 20 carries and help set up Manteca’s three passing touchdowns.
“I’m back for the rest of the games and the playoffs,” Russell said. “Tonight was a big one because it was against Oakdale. They were a 5-1 team and we were a 2-3 team and they probably thought they were going to come in here and do their thing, but honestly they weren’t.
“We came out and we executed and the offensive line did their thing and I ran through their holes and I did my thing.”
Manteca took a 7-0 lead midway through the first period when Jorge Cedano (five receptions, 44 yards) pulled in a 13-yard scoring pass from Ryan Ward (11 of 20, 102 yards passing, four interceptions).
The Buffaloes offense sputtered a bit in the second quarter and turned the ball over via interception twice with the Mustangs taking full advantage of the gifts to score on a Max Moore 5-yard run and a Caleb Kuppens 71-yard scamper. Cedano and Ward combined for a 14-yard scoring play late in the first half to spot Oakdale a 14-13 halftime lead. On his second touchdown catch, Cedano was drilled on the 5 and battled his way in for the score.
“I’m really proud of us and I’m really proud of our defense,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “This was huge and it puts us in a good spot from here on out.
“Our offense struggled and we shot ourselves in the foot time and time again. This was an example of how good of a coach (defensive coordinator Rick) James is. The kids rally around him and he needed this kind of game tonight. When it mattered, we got it done and I think we are coming around as a full team and that makes us very, very dangerous.”
With 8:08 left in the game, Ward gave Manteca the lead for good when he spotted Jacob DeJesus (five receptions, 32 yards) for a 15-yard touchdown pass and a 19-14 lead.
“Turnovers kill,” Varnum said. “I almost gave Ryan (Ward) the hook in the fourth for a change of pace but that last drive he got his composure and marched us down the field a bit.
“Having those two quarterbacks with Miguel Sequeira using his legs a little bit is something you are going to see a little bit more for another option in our offense.”
The Manteca defense rose to the occasion one more time. After the Mustangs being awarded two 15-yard penalties they found themselves facing fourth down and 6 yards to go from the Buffaloes 10 with 2:51 left in the game. Dave Ramirez intercepted an Oakdale pass and the Mustangs would not get that close again.
The two teams last met in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship last December and Manteca came away with a convincing 34-17 win at Lincoln High in Stockton.
“This is the first time we have beat them in back-to-back games since 2005,” Varnum said. “The kids hang their hat on that and they are proud of that and it took everything they had but they got it done.”
Oakdale 0 14 0 0 —14
Manteca 7 6 0 6—19
M—Jorge Cedano 13 pass from Ryan Ward (Jacob DeJesus kick), 6:17
O—Max Moore 5 run (Dom McDonald kick), 10:54
O—Caleb Kuppens 71 run (McDonald kick), 8:36
M—Cedano 14 pass from Ward (kick failed), 2:10
M—DeJesus 15 pass from Ward (pass failed), 8:08.