The Lathrop junior varsity defense came up big when it had to Friday night in a 13-12 win over visiting Ceres to start the Western Athletic Conference campaign at Bennie Gatto Field.
With 5:24 left in the game the Bulldogs scored to come within 13-12 and decided to attempt a two-point conversion. Rueben Lopez and Humza Habibi helped stuff the Ceres run into the left side of the Spartans line that came up short of the goal line,
The Spartans defense bent but did not break in the third quarter. Ceres took the second-half kickoff and marched down the field for nine minutes and four seconds but could not find the end zone.
Enter Malachi Gonzales.
After Gonzales (18 carries, 131 yards, two touchdowns) was held to just 13 yards in the first half, when Lathrop took over late in the third period Gonzales carried the ball every snap on the eight-play, 79-yard drive and at one time racked up three consecutive first downs. Gonzales capped that drive with a 4-yard scoring plunge for the 13-6 lead. He scored in the first period on a 7-yard run.
Habibi (four tackles) made an interception in the first quarter that led to the first Gonzales touchdown. Landen Nolte led the Spartans with five tackles. Eliseo Lopez and Gonzales added four tackles apiece.
Ripon Christian 14, Denair 7
Lushen Sanders ground out more than 100 yards and scored a touchdown for the Knights.
Sanders tallied 135 yards on 10 carries with a 34-yard touchdown run. Blake Stuit got Ripon Christian on the board when he blocked a punt and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
Chase Bunnell was 4 of 8 passing for 58 yards for the Knights. Danny Lambdin gained 43 yards on two catches, Carson Cho ran for 46 yards on seven carries, Dax Beidleman had seven carries for 34 yards and Stuit chipped in 16 yards on two carries.
Bunnell, Lambdin and Sanders made seven tackles apiece, Biedleman made six stops, Stuit and Patrick Cory added five stops apiece with three tackles for Carson Cho (forced fumble, fumble recovery).
River Islands 20, Riverbank 13
The Riptide’s Idrees ElFarra was in on three touchdowns to lead his team to the first win in program history.
ElFarra (9 of 16 passing, 127 yards, interception; four carries, 56 yards) ran for a 22-yard touchdown and threw touchdown passes of 16 yards to Euan Costales (four receptions, 72 yards; five carries, 71 yards) and 19 yards to Jordan Acaya along. Andre DeLeon also contributed on offense.
Alex Henry III led River Island with nine tackles. Isaac Covarrubias (interception) and Spencer Agpoon added four stops each and Yovany Avila forced a fumble.
Sierra 24, Modesto 8
With the Panthers driving to possibly tie the score Kian Mejia ended the game for the Timberwolves with an interception returned for a touchdown.
Sierra’s Nate Soto ran for 47 yards on had 10 carries with one touchdown. Isaac Kempf went 9 for 13 passing for 79 yards and one interception and ran for 54 yards on 12 carries with a rushing touchdown. Kian Mejia made four receptions for 38 yards.
Damian Densmore led the Timberwolves with 15 tackles. Jaed Alcauter added six stops with five apiece for Mateo Munoz, Angel Land and Soto.
Lathrop 6, Ceres 6
Jonah Hernandez ran for a 1-yard touchdown for the Spartans but that was all the scoring Lathrop could muster.
Ekam Sohal added 42 yards on 12 carries and Xavier Avila had 41 yards on nine touches. Gabriel Esqueda was 3 of 7 passing for 51 yards. Ayden Louie and Damian Hermosillo also contributed on offense.
Lathrop’s Beau Grisham (fumble recovery) and Elijah Munoz made five tackles apiece. Jonah Hernandez added four stops.