LATHROP — Seventeen carries for 230 yards with three touchdowns is a good night for any high-school running back.
Lathrop’s Michael Ramos did that in the first half Friday, leading the Spartans to a 36-18 homecoming win over Weston Ranch at Bennie Gatto Field. This league opener was the last Valley Oak League football meeting between these two teams as Lathrop moves to the Western Athletic Conference next season.
By the time the dust settled Ramos had racked up 378 yards on 24 carries with scoring runs of 4, 6, 39 and 79 yards along with a 20-yard touchdown catch from Keonnee Linnell.
“The linemen were doing their job,” Ramos said. “The holes were there. All I had to do was hit it and get to the outside.
“You could tell that the line was doing its job because we were running the same play a lot, and it showed how hard the line was working.”
It took just three plays for Lathrop (1-0 VOL, 2-2 overall) to traverse 69 yards and bust into the end zone with the final 39 yards coming from a Ramos run. Eight of his rushes went for more than 20 yards.
“We saw something we really liked early on,” Spartans coach Joe Pirillo said. “We worked with our linemen all week on blocking and staying with their blocks so we could give Ramos some wiggle room. After that first play I knew I wanted to call the same one again, and the next thing you know he took off.”
Amier Bowen racked up 294 passing yards for Weston Ranch (0-4, 0-1), completing 25 of 37 with two interceptions and a 45-yard pass to Fletcher Pitts (eight receptions, 83 yards) late in the game. Bowen also had 17 carries for 61 yards and the first Cougars touchdown on a 15-yard run with 15 seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game at 6-6.
As well as Bowen did, he was harassed all night by Lathrop’s Antonio Marquez, who sacked Bowen three times.
“We knew we had to get some pressure on that quarterback,” Marquez said. “We knew he was going to power their offense.”
The strangest play of the night came as the clock was running down in the first half. On fourth and long from near midfield, Bowen scrambled and appeared to be stopped short of a first down when the ball popped out and teammate Julius Nelson gobbled it up and ran the final 20 yards for a touchdown to draw Weston Ranch within 22-12.
The play got even stranger when before the extra point could be attempted a fight broke out and a player from each team was ejected. The officials ran the final 4 seconds off the clock, and the conversion was attempted before the start of the second half.
Ramos’s 378 yards were more than everyone else on both teams combined.
“At times, we would tackle Ramos and at times we wouldn’t,” Cougars coach Seth Davis said. “Obviously, he runs hard. But we played better defensively tonight than we have all year. We are happy for that but we couldn’t seem to muster it up offensively. We threw a pick in the end zone, we dropped a ball in the end zone and if you don’t take care of the football, that’s what happens.”