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Manteca avoids letdown vs. Jags; alone atop VOL
Manteca High tight end Michael Hatfield is tackled by Kimballs Damon Jackson but only after reeling off a big play in the first half. - photo by CHRIS LEONARD

Manteca High coach Eric Reis warned his team about a possible letdown Friday against Kimball.

“If ever there was a trap game, this was it,” he said after his Buffaloes took care of the Jaguars at Guss Schmiedt Field, 48-12.

After all, his Valley Oak League-leading squad was coming off an emotional win at Oakdale coupled with distractions such as enjoying this past week off from school.

Manteca (4-0, 6-1 overall) relied on its horses up front and a four-touchdown effort from senior running back Alex Laurel, who had 116 yards on 13 carries.

But it was his kickoff return that helped set the table. Laurel took the opening kickoff 70 yards to inside the 5.

Two plays later, Hector Soto scored on a 1-yard plunge.

Kimball (2-2, 3-4) charged right back, driving the ball behind the tough running of Gaige Allen and Rashaad Cooper.

The Jaguars got as far as the MHS 8 before being denied. From there, the Buffaloes put together a three-minute drive capped by Laurel’s 1-yard run.

Manteca got the ball back moments later as Billy Sharmoug caused a fumble inside Jaguar territory. Laurel scored on a 7-yard run.

The Buffaloes made it 28-0 early in the second as quarterback Joe Menzel found Laurel on a 27-yard scoring strike.

Kimball finally got its offense untracked as Gaige Allen scooted 47 yards for the TD. He helped close the gap to 28-12, scoring from 20 yards out shortly before halftime.

“We knew coming in that Kimball was not only dangerous but had some very skilled individual players,” Reis said.

Manteca may have dashed any Jaguar comeback hopes following Nick Gatehouse’s over-the-shoulder catch of a Menzel 46-yard bomb, in turn, padding the Buffaloes’ lead at the half, 35-12.

Laurel’s fifth and final TD came midway through the third as result of a 74-yard drive.

Manteca added the final touches as Carl Chandler made the most of his fourth-quarter carries. He tallied 49 yards on seven carries including a 1-yard TD run.