Pacheco 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lathrop 7 13 14 7 — 41
L — Eddie Reynoso 1 run (Anthony Cuellar kick)
L — Jeremiah Green 13 pass from Luis Hernandez (Cuellar kick), 11:51
L — Gian Albano 40 fumble return (kick fail), :03
L — Hernandez 1 run (Cuellar kick), 8:02
L — Reynoso 1 run (Cuellar kick), 1:15
L — Kameron Jones 17 run (Cuellar kick), 2:20
LATHROP — Trailing by 14 points and desperate to get into the end zone before halftime, Pacheco quarterback Adael Diaz dropped back to throw on fourth down only to find Lathrop lineman Harold Gary in his face. Gary bear-hugged Diaz and squeezed the ball out for Spartans teammate Gian Albano to gobble up and rumble 40 yards for a touchdown with 3 seconds showing on the first-half clock on the way to a 41-0 Western Athletic Conference win for host Lathrop’s homecoming.
“When I picked up that ball, the first thing I heard was, ‘Get down on the ground,’” Albano said. “Heck no. I was running it.
“At the end I tripped over my foot and I turned back and I saw a white and purple jersey and I told myself I was getting into the end zone.”
Gary was not done. On the ensuing kickoff Gary flat-backed the return man, knocking both his feet off the ground at once. Gary had another crushing tackle on a third-quarter kickoff return. He finished with 10 tackles, three of which were behind the line of scrimmage.
“I got in the backfield, he messed up and I hit him and knocked the ball loose,” Gary said of his forced fumble. “I was untouched on that kickoff and I saw an open lane and I took it.”
The Spartans defense was suffocating. Minus one 47-yard rush by the Panthers from Los Banos in the second quarter, Lathrop (2-0 WAC, 4-1 overall) held Pacheco (1-1, 2-3) to just 66 first-half yards. The Panthers finished with 156 total yards.
“Harold (Gary) is the man,” Spartans coach Ryan Teicheira said. “He goes in, week in and week out, and puts in the work. You have to double team him or scheme around him. He is a beast on the line and he is physical.
“He is strong. He moves people and he creates havoc just by his speed and his strength.”
Pacheco won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, hoping to pin Lathrop back on its opening possession.
That did not happen.
Lathrop took the ball and marched 59 yards in 10 plays to start the game, capping the drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge by Eddie Reynoso. Reynoso added another 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Luis Hernandez directed the high-octane Spartans offense (356 total yards), throwing a 13-yard scoring pass to Jeremiah Green and running in a touchdown from a yard out.
Both Aaron Ramones and Jeremiah Estante had more rushing yards for Lathrop than the total of 87 for the Panthers with Ramones gaining 107 yards on seven carries and Estante chipping in 91 yards on 15 carries.
“I was just following the blocks,” Ramones said. “I was hitting every hole I could see.”
Kameron Jones was one of nine ball carriers for the Spartans and capped the night’s scoring late in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard touchdown run to the outside.
“Offensively, we are still trying to find a great rotation of backs,” Teicheira said. “We have some guys that are doing great and start every game and carry the load, but our 2s are hungry every week. We preach to them that they have to be ready and chase the No. 1.
“We are trying to give Kam (Jones) looks. We like his speed and how he attacks the outside. He has to get used to seeing blocks but at the same time he is our starting cornerback and he is doing a great job there. We’re comfortable with the looks that he gets but we are trying to keep him as fresh as we can.”
Following Gary on defense for Lathrop were Noah Martinez with six tackles, Justin Tisdell with four and Josiah Pena, Isaiah Miravite-Baumgardner and Junior Williams (interception) with three apiece.
Jedediah De la Torre led Pacheco with 53 yards on 13 carries, and Diaz was 9 of 15 passing for 69 yards with an interception.