In order to have a shot at the playoffs, the Sierra Timberwolves must win out what’s left of their schedule.
They took a step towards that goal Friday with a 38-21 Valley Oak League victory at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium over Lathrop.
Sierra (3-3, 4-5) did most of its damage in the air as quarterback Anthony Perea threw for four touchdowns and also ran one in for a score.
Twice he connected with Zach Penirian, who had a memorable homecoming.
The previous night he was crowned prince for the homecoming festivities. Penirian spent halftime as escort to homecoming queen Mallory Freeman. In the third quarter, he hauled in a 73-yard bomb from Perea to help put the game on ice.
In the process, Penirian, who had six catches for 154 yards, established a new school record in receptions.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, especially Tony (Perea),” he said.
It was the Spartans who came out swinging.
Lathrop (0-6, 1-8) needed just two plays to find pay dirt with Dennis Johnson carrying the load. His first carry went for 63 yards to inside the Timberwolves 5. Two plays later, Johnson scored on a 3-yard run.
Sierra found a way around the Spartans’ tough run defense, using a variety of short passes that at times turned into long runs.
Perea found Jordan Lewis on a short comeback route. Lewis turned up field, taking advantage of his blocking and breaking loose for a 27-yard touchdown.
He had another catch-and-run on the Timberwolves’ next possession.
Down 14-7 – Lathrop had another long run out of its veer, with Christian Pena scoring on a 3-yard run – Lewis again found daylight after hauling in the short pass from Perea.
Alex Zepeda’s kick knotted the game at 14-14.
The Spartans racked up 368 rushing yards out of their veer. “They do a good job running their veer,” said Sierra coach Jeff Harbison.
It took some time before his team figured out a way to slow down Lathrop.
One such way was turnovers. The Timberwolves surged ahead in the second quarter following an interception.
Sierra linebacker Austin Acker came up with the pick and Perea quickly made the Spartans pay by hitting Penirian on a 46-yard scoring strike.
Kayson Matela then came up with an interceptions – he had two for the game – returning the theft for 55 yards.
A few plays later, Perea scored on a 9-yard run.
Ahead 28-14, Sierra got the ball back and in good field position shortly before halftime. Zepeda closed out the first half by drilling a 21-yard field goal.
The Timberwolves tried to kick-start their offense in the second half. They managed to do just that on one play – the Penirian-Perea connection for six in the third quarter – and milked the clock from there.
“We had a good start,” said Lathrop coach Jesse Rodriguez. “We figured as long as we held on to the ball Sierra would have a tough time scoring.”
But his team was betrayed by turnovers – try, three interceptions and a fumble.
“We’re still trying to play the complete game,” Rodriguez added. “We may still get there.”
The Spartans close out the season against Kimball.