LATHROP – It may not have been a great win for the Lathrop High football team.
But Spartans coach Jesse Rodriguez will certainly take Friday’s 27-23 non-league victory against visiting McClatchy of Sacramento.
“We wanted to get everyone involved (in the game), especially after we went up 27-3 in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Rodriguez was disappointed with the letdown from his reserves. In particular, his two backup units allowed Lions quarterback Nick Modar to engineer three scoring drives in the final eight minutes.
Outside of that – not to mention the numerous penalties – Lathrop had stellar start, scoring twice in the first quarter.
Dennis Johnson bulldozed his way up the middle for one score while Andrew Aquino added the other.
Aquino finished with three TDs.
The Spartans (1-1) gave McClatchy great field position in the second quarter by muffing a punt. Lathrop’s defense prevented the Lions from reaching the end zone.
McClatchy was forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Aldo Alejandrez.
Lathrop nearly added another score shortly before half-time. Quarterback Elijah Cash connected with junior tight end Austin Plunk, who was stopped a few yards shy of the end zone as the opening half expired.
The McClatchy offense controlled most of the third quarter. The Spartans managed to get the ball back at the Lions 40.
Several plays later, Aquino, early in the fourth quarter, scored on a 23-yard run, with Johnson’s 17-yard gain as one of the key plays of the drive.
Wilmer Alvarez’s kick made it 20-3.
Plunk recovered a fumble, advancing the loose ball to the McClatchy 10.
A few plays later, Aquino scored on a 1-yard plunge.
Lathrop suddenly had a 27-3 advantage with 8:29 remaining in the game.
Modar went to work, hitting Charlie Tschudin on a 14-yard scoring toss. He also kicked the PAT kick.
At the 2:22 mark, Modar connected with Keyontae Jennings on a 16-yard scoring strike.
In the closing minute, McClatchy came to within striking distance as Modar called his own number, scoring on a 10-yard run.
“(The Lions) came back to make the game interesting,” Rodriguez said.
He praised the play of his first team defensive unit spearheaded by inside linebacker Ricky Chavez.