Garren Genilla ended the first half with a sack.
He later ended the game with a 78-yard touchdown return off a fumble recovery.
The scoop-and-score was one of three turnovers Manteca turned into points Friday at Guss Schmiedt Field, where the Buffaloes trampled visiting rival Sierra 50-7 for their fourth straight victory.
“It was a little crazy,” Genilla said. “When I saw that ball, it was like a dream for me.”
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound junior outside linebacker was in Sierra’s backfield when he saw the ball pop loose and settle onto the turf after Sierra running back Kimoni Stanley slammed into a wall of bodies at the line of scrimmage. Genilla picked it up and scooted the other direction, racing down Sierra’s sideline and into the end zone with 57 seconds remaining.
With the clock running, Kevin Thornburg’s point-after kick was the final play of the contest.
“In the first half there was another fumble I should have gotten but my teammate kicked it,” Genilla said. “I really had to get this one. I wanted to finish it.”
Manteca (4-1 Valley Oak League, 6-3 overall) has now won six straight in the all-time series and lead Sierra, 18-6. The Timberwolves (2-3, 4-5) are still very much in the postseason hunt thanks to their 16-13 win over East Union last week. They’ll end the regular season at winless Weston Ranch, while Manteca heads to East Union.
“Coming off that huge win for them, they have that belief right now,” Manteca coach Mark Varnum said. “Coach (Chris) Johnson does a phenomenal job, but here at Manteca we like to show that we’re at a different level in this town and we obviously did it again tonight.”
Manteca was in control from the outset. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense drove 57 yards and used up 13 plays in 5 minutes, 41 seconds. Trabron Russell capped it off with a 1-yard run and finished with 71 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Jacob DeJesus (seven rushes, 36 yards, TD; four catches, 83 yards, TD) contributed two touchdowns and had a sack on defense, Jorge Cedano had 57 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions and quarterback Ryan Ward was 12 of 17 for 155 yards, two scores and an interception.
Miguel Sequeira (five rushes, 24 yards; 15-yard catch), who transferred from Sierra, scored Manteca’s final offensive touchdown with a 1-yard run from the Wildcat formation late in the third quarter.
“We just wanted to be balanced and use our weapons,” Varnum said. “Obviously we have Jorge, Tra and DeJesus, but Miguel has been a huge part of our offense as well.”
Defensive back Jose Ceja and linebacker Tyler Brintley each recovered fumbles for the Manteca defense that surrendered just 136 yards — half of them coming off Nick Stanley’s 68-yard touchdown dash late in the second quarter. The Timberwolves closed in 21-7, and that was the halftime score.
“They’ve got some really good players and they wore us down,” Johnson said. “Let’s be honest, we can’t jump offsides and turn the ball over the way we did against a good football team like that. I think we came out intimidated and it showed. We made mistakes tonight that we haven’t made for weeks.
“Our defense played well and I thought they fought for a while, but (the Buffaloes) have some guys we can’t match up with,” the Sierra coach added. “And if we can’t help ourselves on offense we’re dead. We can’t play 100 snaps on defense.”
Stanley led Sierra with five rushes for 93 yards, and younger brother Kimoni pounded his way to 49 yards on 13 rushes. The Timberwolves attempted only three passes, with Shane Johnson completing a 22-yard toss to Nyco Mendoza on the game’s penultimate play.
Frankie Vela highlighted the Sierra defense with an interception.
“We go back on Monday and bust our butts off in practice,” Nick Stanley said. “For us seniors, it might be our last game coming up.”
Sierra 0 7 0 0 — 7
Manteca 6 15 22 7 — 50
M—Trabron Russell 1 run (kick missed), 4:04.
M—Jorge Cedano 6 pass from Ryan Ward (Aidan Klinesmith pasa from Ward), 8:58.
M—Jacob DeJesus 8 run (Kevin Thornburg kick), 4:39.
S—Nick Stanley 68 run (Jordan Shinn kick), 3:37.
M—Russell 2 run (Thornburg kick), 9:38.
M—DeJesus 23 pass from Ward (Alex Gouveia pass from DeJesus), 7:07.
M—Miguel Sequeira 1 run (Thornburg kick), 1:52.
M—Garren Genilla 78 fumble return (Thornburg kick), 0:57.