LATHROP — Just 18 inches shy of a one-point game at halftime, Lathrop took the momentum into the locker room in its Western Athletic Conference tilt Friday, but it was Grace Davis that came out of the halftime break on fire.
The Spartans of Modesto gained 56 yards on three plays for the first of four third-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 57-13 win at Bennie Gatto Field.
“We tried to settle down at halftime,” Grace Davis coach Tim Garcia said. “We weren’t playing well in the first half and it was due to our mistakes and the way Lathrop was playing. They did a great job scheming and playing hard in the first half, causing problems for us.
“We settled down in the second half and came out with a drive and a score and that got the momentum back and then we got control of the football game.”
Lathrop got its two touchdowns inside of a two-minute span in the first quarter. Trailing 7-0, Lathrop quarterback Davis Raya-Ruiz engineered a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive capped by Christian Ray’s 1-yard plunge to tie the game at 7-7.
Raya-Ruiz (21 of 36 passing, 185 yards, touchdown, two interceptions) appeared to be tackled in the backfield on one of the plays on that scoring drive but somehow wiggled free, spotting Isaiah Miravite-Baumgardner (three catches, 66 yards) with a 51-yard pass play to the Grace Davis 15-yard line. After a couple of running plays, Raya-Ruiz got the ball to Jason Seabron Jr. (five catches, 28 yards) who carried most of the Grace Davis defensive backfield the final 5 yards of a 10-yard play down to the 1.
Following Ray’s touchdown, Jeremiah Estante recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, giving Lathrop the ball near midfield. Raya-Ruiz capped that six-play drive with a 33-yard scoring pass to Joey Sanchis (four catches, 38 yards) to put Lathrop ahead 13-7.
Grace Davis took a 21-13 lead by the end of the first quarter and neither team would score in the second quarter, but Lathrop came close. Fighting the clock, Lathrop got one final play off from the 10-yard line with six seconds remaining in the half when Raya-Ruiz connected with Seabron Jr. for 9-plus yards with Seabron Jr. being kept out of the end zone by inches as time expired.
“It imploded on us,” Lathrop coach Joe Pirillo said. “We started making mental mistakes. We turned the ball over and we were not gap sound on defense. When you are not gap sound on defense and not taking care of the ball that is what is going to happen. Good teams are going to take advantage and capitalize on that every time.
“We had some good drives that were kept alive by our quarterback. It was running back by committee again and we had some good runs from our running backs. The line was doing the best that it could — I thought they protected pretty well for the most part.”
Grace Davis quarterback Elijah Diaz carried the load for his team, going 4 of 12 passing for 103 yards and two touchdowns while picking up 118 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns.
G. Davis 21 0 29 7 — 57
Lathrop 13 0 0 0 — 13
G— Elijah Diaz 2 run (Roger Nevarez kick), 9:06
L—Christian Ray 1 run (Davis Raya-Ruiz kick), 7:06
L—Joey Sanchis 33 pass from Raya-Ruiz (kick fail), 5:17
G—Motor Hodge 35 run (Nevarez kick), 4:35
G—Diaz 4 run (Nevarez kick), 1:11
G—Hodge 3 run (Nevarez kick), 10:54
G—Se’von A. Hampton 12 pass from Diaz (Nevarez kick), 6:00
G—Gregory Smith 45 interception (Nevarez kick), 2:26
G—Smith 50 pass from Diaz (Diaz run), :10
G—Cameron Austen 23 pass from Hampton (Nevarez kick), 4:28