MODESTO — The Lathrop Spartans threw everything that they had at Johansen Friday night, throwing the ball 35 times in a Western Athletic Conference showdown with playoff implications for the host Vikings.
But after starting its opening offensive drive with a turnover on first down and committing four more over the course of the contest, Lathrop simply couldn’t overcome the self-inflicted wounds in a 27-19 loss at Dan Gonsalves Stadium.
“I think that the kids played hard, but we had a lot of mistakes tonight — broken plays, mental mistakes, turning the ball over,” Lathrop head coach Joe Pirillo said. “You can’t turn the ball over like that against a good football team.
“We came back and tied it at halftime, and I’m proud of how our guys played hard, but we can’t make that many mistakes in a game like this.”
Despite starting the game off with the ball, a fumble on the game’s first handoff gave Johansen possession in prime field position, and the Vikings wasted no time in finding the end zone. John Romero connected with Tieran Collins from 27-yards on out on Johansen’s first play from scrimmage for the game’s first touchdown.
While the Spartans sputtered on their next two offensive drives, fumbling the ball after driving down to inside of the Johansen 10-yard line and then turning the ball over on downs, Lathrop managed to tie the game near the end of the first quarter when Davis Raya-Ruiz connected with Joey Sanchis on a 23-yard strike that showed that the Spartans weren’t quite ready to give in just yet.
While he would throw three interceptions in the contest, Raya-Ruiz finished the night with three touchdowns as well — he completed 20 of his 36 passing attempts for 298 yards — and made some of his best throws on scrambles and broken plays.
Correcting those mistakes before taking on Los Banos, which beat Johansen last week by a single point, will be imperative, Pirillo says, to ending adding another league win to Lathrop’s record.
“We’re going to look to clean things up and correct some of the mistakes before next week,” Pirillo said. “Making these kinds of mistakes is killer, we can’t turn the ball over the way that we did tonight.”
Romero finished the game 8-of-11 passing for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. Johansen also used eight ballcarriers to break up the tempo and allow for Romero, who also had 11 carries for 38 yards, to find his rhythm in the pocket.
Lathrop 7 6 7 7 — 27
Johansen 7 6 0 6 — 19
J—Tiernan Collins 27 pass from John Romero (Emmanuel Gomez Arrismendi kick), 11:32
L—Joey Sanchis 23 pass from Davis Raya-Ruiz (Raya-Ruiz kick), 2:28.
J—Matthew Castaneda 10 pass from Romero (Gomez Arrismendi kick failed), 6:44.
L—Jason Seabron Jr. 34 pass from Raya-Ruiz (conversion run failed), 3:51.
J—Collins 34 pass from Romero (Gomez Arrismendi kick), 8:56.
J—Zachary Myong 1 run (Gomez Arrismendi kick), 3:39.
L—Sanchis 5 pass from Raya-Ruiz (conversion failed), 2:08.