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Downey comes back for OT win over Manteca
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MODESTO — Downey scored 27 of the game’s final 33 points Friday night, including a game-ending touchdown in overtime to edge visiting Manteca 54-48 in non-league football action at Chuck Hughes Stadium.
After the Knights (2-0) tied the score with an 81-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Gouker (20 of 28 passing, 446 yards, six touchdowns, interception) to Lawrence Harris (six receptions, 248 yards, five touchdowns) for the duo’s third touchdown of the fourth quarter with 4:21 showing on the clock, Manteca (1-1) appeared to have the answer.
Jacob De Jesus nearly broke the kickoff return for a score but was tackled after a 52-yard scamper to the Downey 45-yard line. Three plays later, from the 27, Buffaloes workhorse Trabron Russell (27 carries, 205 yards) carried the ball to the 13 where he was upended, coming down on his helmet and shoulder pads. The ball squirted out and after a long discussion, although Russell clearly hit the ground with the ball in his possession, the play was ruled a fumble and the Knights regained possession.
Manteca’s poor luck on calls did not end there. On the next play, Gouker hit Cortez Rush with a 14-yard pass on the wing in front of the Buffaloes bench. The Manteca defender cleanly stripped Rush of the ball long before Rush hit the ground, but a whistle blew negating what would have been a scoop and score.
“There were a couple of horrible, horrible calls,” Buffaloes coach Mark Varnum said. “That fumble was a joke and a couple of others were jokes but we can’t blame it on that. We have to make plays and we have to be better than that.”
Manteca played a large part in its own demise, questionable calls aside. Gouker continually torched the Buffaloes secondary, completing two touchdown passes in excess of 60 yards as well as a 70-yard touchdown run right up the middle.
“They have athletes and a couple of times they were in the right spots,” Varnum said. “We got beat a few times and there are no excuses you can make for that. Our defense is too talented and too skilled to give up those kinds of big plays.
“And I know Coach (defensive coordinator Rick) James and he’s going to fix it. I know these seniors and they’re going to fix it. They are going to turn the page next week and take care of business.”
It looked as if overtime was going to go the Buffaloes’ way only to have their hopes dashed by an outstanding play. On the second play of the extra period from the 21, Manteca quarterback Ryan Ward (14 of 20, 192 yards, two touchdowns, interception) spotted a wide open De Jesus (nine receptions, 117 yards, two touchdowns; four carries, 95 yards, touchdown) in the back of the end zone. Ward fired a bullet toward De Jesus only to have Harris display his speed and leaping ability that landed him a berth in last year’s CIF State Track and Field Championships as a high jumper when he came out of nowhere to sky for the interception.
The controversy was not over yet. Gouker found Harris one more time just inside the end zone, but the Buffaloes defender kept the ball from crossing the plane. After originally being ruled a touchdown, the ball was placed on the 1 and Robert Rivera (17 carries, 140 yards, two touchdowns; five receptions, 47 yards, touchdown) took it the final 3 feet for the win.
“I just think it was two great teams going at it and we made one better play than Manteca did,” Knights coach Jeremy Plaa said. “You have to give credit to Manteca. They did a great job playing and coaching their butts off.”

Manteca   0 21 21 6 0  – 48
Downey   8 13  6 21 6 – 54

First quarter
D—Robert Rivera 3 pass from Bryce Gouker (Lawrence Harris pass from Gouker), :12
Second quarter
D—Harris 63 pass from Gouker (Cris Cortez kick), 9:43
M—Jacob De Jesus 22 pass from Ryan Ward (Kevin Thornburg kick), 6:09
D—Rivera 70 run (pass fail), 5:57
M—Aiden Nicolas 8 run (Thornburg kick), 4:04
M—Trabron Russell 2 run (Thornburg kick), :17
Third quarter
M—De Jesus 75 run (Russell run), 9:50
M—De Jesus 12 pass from Ward (kick fail), 6:19
D—Harris 1 pass from Gouker (kick fail), 5:38
M—Sunny Dozier 26 pass from Ward (Thornburg kick), 2:37
Fourth quarter
D—Harris 18 pass from Gouker (Cortez kick), 8:58
M—Russell 54 run (pass fail), 7:28
D—Harris 14 pass from Gouker (Cortez kick), 4:51
D—Harris 81 pass from Gouker (Cortez kick), 4:21
D—Rivera 1 run