By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca holds off Hawks
Buffaloes run out clock with lengthy drive in avoiding upset
FB--Central Valley-Manteca pic 2
Manteca wide out Ronaldo Tijero tries to gain separation with a stiff arm on Central Valleys Moses Ghiorso. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

It took Manteca just two minutes to score a pair of touchdowns and gain what appeared to be the momentum necessary to glide past visiting Central Valley in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs Friday night at Guss Schmiedt Field.
But the Hawks weren’t quite ready to give up just yet.
While they never held a lead in the contest, Central Valley had a chance to take it with just over three minutes left on the clock but turned the ball over on downs on a failed fourth-down pass. Manteca took the ensuing possession, marched the length of the field and then downed the ball out at the 1-yard line for a 31-28 victory and the chance to travel to Sacramento to play Inderkum.
“A drive like that is a lineman’s dream,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “To get the ball with almost four minutes left and drive the length of the field for the win – it shows how hard those kids fight and their will to do what is needed to get the win.
“I have to say that our defense came up strong there at the end to force the turnover on downs and give us the chance to win this game. And I have to tip my hat to Coach (Scott) Edwards for what he’s been able to do over there. There were a couple of points tonight where they could have tapped but they didn’t and that says a lot about how far he has brought that program.”
Manteca wide receiver Jose Garcia took the game’s opening kickoff 86 yards to the Central Valley 2-yard line to set up the Buffaloes first scoring play of the night.
And special teams and defensive prowess played a big part in why Manteca was able to keep the momentum and the lead as the Hawks closed in during the second half.
First there was Ronaldo Tijero intercepting Reuben Rodriguez pass and returning it 20 yards for a touchdown, and the rotation of backs that fielded punts and kickoffs – including Tijero and Joshua Griffin – helped keep field-position as an asset that Manteca employed willingly.
But when Tijero called for a fair catch on a high, short punt and was leveled by a pursuing defender – drawing a helmet-to-helmet penalty – it riled up the Manteca sidelines and motivated the senior defensive back to play even harder.
“That made me mad a little bit,” he said after the game. “And I play better when I’m mad – I’m more focused on what I have to do. Tonight as a team we did what we have to do and we’re going to be out there on the field again next week which is what you work for all year.”
Tijero finished the game with five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
While Manteca’s defense was stout enough to thwart the battling Hawks, it was Manteca’s offense that shucked the razzle-dazzle for the slow, plodding, methodical running and short-passing game that kept the chains moving consistently.
Marcus Rivas, who carried the ball 19 times for Manteca, finished with 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns early in the game that proved to be crucial to edging out the win. While he didn’t have any long bursts, Rivas helped Manteca win with three and four yards at a time for the majority of the contest.
“This wasn’t about the big plays tonight, but about getting 2 and 3-yards at a time,” Rivas said. “My hat goes off to the offensive line for making that possible. I think that it shows our ability to overcome adversity and our willingness to fight to stay and make sure that we have one more week in this season. It was a big win for us.”