Manteca hadn’t lost back-to-back games since 2012 until now.
Unable to jumpstart a sputtering offense, the Buffaloes were quickly trying to play catchup with Granada and its potent air attack at Guss Schmiedt Field and couldn’t close the gap in a 35-14 defeat that drops the reigning CIF Sac-Joaquin Division III champions to 1-2 on the season.
“We just laid an egg early on offense and it kind of just built from there,” said first-year Manteca High coach Mark Varnum. “Our defense came out and played well the second half but we couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole that we got into early on.
“We had some injury issues, but we’re going to have to refocus and get some guys that can step up and do the jobs for the entire game.”
The Matadors (3-0) of Livermore, who lost to Campolindo last season in the North Coast Section Division II final and returned the majority of their starters, wasted no time in jumping out to an early lead against Manteca when quarterback JJ Knight connected with Zack Macintire on a 6-yard pass with just under four minutes to play in the first quarter.
Less than two minutes later, Granada extended its lead when Knight connected with Malini Tea on a 44-yard strike that set the tone for an offensive explosion that would prove to be too much for the Buffaloes to handle.
“We knew that we had a tough schedule,” Varnum said. This is a team that went to the section finals last year and brought everybody back, so we knew they weren’t going to come out and just roll over.
“We just couldn’t get anything going. We’re going to have to figure some things out because it doesn’t get any easier coming up.”
Manteca has an upcoming contest with Tracy before starting the Valley Oak League season against Central Catholic.
And with running back Trabron Russell out with a high ankle sprain — going down just before halftime and not returning for the rest of the contest — and quarterback Ryan Ward badly shaken on a brutal hit sustained just as time expired in the third quarter, Manteca will have to put together a game plan that may not include two of its most powerful offensive weapons.
Friday was the second week in a row that Manteca has faced a potent air attack, and Knight put together an impressive performance with 211 yards on 11 of 21 passes for four touchdowns. He also scored from 1-yard out. Three of Knight’s four touchdown passes were to Zach Macintire, who finished with four receptions for 72 yards, while Tea finished with six catches for 97 yards a score.
Manteca’s reserve quarterback Miguel Sequeira finished as the Buffaloes leading rusher, racking up 70 yards on five carries late in the game including a 31-yard touchdown scamper in the final minutes.
Jacob De Jesus carried the ball 13 times for Manteca for 65 yards, and scored Manteca’s other touchdown on a 35-yard breakaway run.
Granada 14 14 7 0 — 35
Manteca 0 0 7 7 — 14
G—Zack Macintire 6 pass from JJ Knight (Octavio Morales kick), 3:58.
G—Malini Tea 44 pass from Knight (Morales kick), 1:57.
G—Macintire 32 pass from Knight (Morales kick), 11:47.
G—Macintire 7 pass from Knight (Morales kick), 0:15.
M—Jacob De Jesus 35 run (Kevin Thornburg kick), 5:10.
G—Knight 1 run (Morales kick), 1:28.
M—Miguel Sequeira 31 run (Thornburg kick), 1:10.