With its starting quarterback and a top lineman out with ankle injuries, Lathrop still managed to stun previously-unbeaten Ceres 19-16 on the road Friday in the Western Athletic Conference opener.
It came down to a wild last few minutes after the Spartans had dominated for nearly three quarters. They were up 12-0 late in the third but found themselves down 16-12 with 3 minutes remaining after Kameron Jones’ fumble was recovered by Ceres linebacker Kahmi Smith and returned for the go-ahead touchdown.
Jones made up for it on Lathrop’s final drive, hitting Jeremiah Green for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left.
Jones, who normally plays tailback or wingback, is splitting time behind center with Teagan Shevlin after Jerico Santillan suffered ligament damage in an ankle two weeks ago at Weston Ranch. The Spartans (1-0 WAC, 2-2 overall) were also without guard Hector Meza, who has sprained both ankles.
“This was supposed to be the team to beat in the WAC This year,” Lathrop coach Ryan Teicheira said. “We’ve had an uphill battle after losing Jerico and Hector. We’ve tried to challenge the kids this week to come out here and play physical and that’s exactly what they did. They kept competing and rose to the occasion.”
Jones finished with 83 yards on 26 rushes while completing two of three passes for 17 yards. Shevlin was 3-of-6 for 79 yards.
Roman Giordano (11 rushes, 45 yards) scored the first two touchdowns of the game on 12- and 1-yard scampers. Green rushed for 37 yards and had 96 receiving on 11 total touches.
Ceres (0-1, 3-1) struggled to get its offense untracked but was able to rip off a few big gains, most notably Landyn Hudson’s 65-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 tight end LeBron Stallworth that got the Bulldogs on the board. They were held to just 52 rushing yards.
Lathrop travels to Pacheco next week.
Ripon Christian 49, Denair 7
The Knights (1-0, 3-1 overall) rushed for 300 yards and had seven different players score touchdowns in the Southern Athletic League opener.
Derek Van Elderen rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown and tallied the first two points of the game with a safety. Twenty seconds later, Trey Fasani hit Jace Beidleman for a 30-yard touchdown. Fasani later hooked up with Griffin de Abreu for another 30-yard scoring strike and finished 8-of-14 passing for 109 yards and no interceptions. Fasani also had a rushing touchdown.
Grant Sonke contributed 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. Brady Grondz and Ethan McGovern each contributed a touchdown run.
Dustin Hoekstra highlighted the defense with five tackles, two for losses and two blocked punts. Van Elderen had four tackles and a sack.