STOCKTON — Everyone gets knocked down.
Some just pick themselves up a little better than others.
After the first touchdown of a 22-point third-quarter Manteca scoring blitz Saturday, the top-seeded Buffaloes’ Joey Goodman was in position to make a tackle on the ensuing kickoff when a bone crushing block flat-backed him, bringing oohs and ahs from the No. 2 Placer of Auburn stands.
That would not happen again.
On the following two kickoffs, Goodman flew down the field and wrapped up the Hillmen returners on textbook solo open-field tackles for little to no gain as Manteca came from behind to pound Placer 50-28 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship at Lincoln High’s Spanos Stadium.
“I didn’t let that happen again,” Goodman said of the block that sent him to the turf. “I only play on kickoff so I got my shots in there and I did what I could, back-to-back.
“I wanted that ring.”
The Buffaloes (12-1) had to pick themselves up as well.
For the second week in a row, Manteca’s first two series were three and out. But unlike the previous week when the Buffaloes rolled Los Banos 52-0, Manteca found itself down to the Hillmen (7-6) after just one Placer snap thanks to a 71-yard play-action pass from Michael Stuck to Anthony Kerrigan, and down 14-0 after two Placer drives.
“We expected them to be smash-mouth and they did a great play-action pass,” Buffaloes coach Eric Reis said. “Good coaching for sure on that.”
It was time for Manteca to pick itself up, and who better to do it than senior signal caller Gino Campiotti.
On his third go around, Campiotti led the Buffaloes on a six-play, 67-yard scoring drive capped by his first of three touchdown passes to Jose Garcia, this one for 16 yards and a 14-7 deficit with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
“Garcia came to play,” Campiotti said. “He did his thing — he worked hard, he wanted the ball. When he was open, I was going to get him the ball.”
Campiotti steered his team to a 21-21 halftime tie while his and Garcia’s totals were at all-star levels. Campiotti was 14 of 22 passing for 306 yards with four passing touchdowns and one on the ground, and Garcia had six receptions for 134 yards.
Once the Manteca offense got rolling, it was running at textbook efficiency. Six of the seven Buffaloes scoring drives took up two minutes or less, and even when Manteca was down Garcia thought it would not be for long.
“Me and Gino we got really close this summer,” Garcia said. “Even when we were behind I thought that we were still in it, that it was our game to take.”
With the offense scorching the wet turf, Manteca made five interceptions – Kyle Rachels had two, Gerson Gomez two and Matthew Ender one – that set up three touchdowns for the Buffaloes.
“On the first interception we were down at the time,” Rachels said. “It was a big, big turnaround and that got us the momentum.
“Coach told us to learn from our mistakes and read our keys, and on that second one I knew I was going to get it. I knew his route and I am just happy to be section champ.”
One minute and 15 seconds after Rachels’ first grab, Campiotti spotted Kameron Beamon for a 72-yard touchdown pass on which Beamon juked his Placer defender and left him in the dust 40 yards from the goal line.
That was Beamon’s shorter score of the night. Less than two minutes after a 1-yard Devyn Gonzales touchdown plunge made the score 43-21, early in the fourth period Beamon (13 carries, 128 yards) galloped 81 yards for the final Buffaloes touchdown of the night.
“Coach told me to disguise things on that touchdown pass and it worked well,” Beamon said. “I knew all I had to do was get open and concentrate on the ball. Everything worked out.
“On the touchdown run I was just feeling it.”
The Manteca defense set up one more score when Justin Kakala blocked his second punt in two weeks, leading to the third Campiotti-Garcia hookup of the night on a 20-yard pass late in the third quarter on fourth and 8 yards to go for a first down.
“I went around the guy on the outside,” Kakala said. “And they were just small in general so I knew I could get past them.
“We have been taught all year to win the battle up front. We put in a lot of hard work every single day at practice and I have to give it up to coach Mongo and coach (Dan) Eavenson.”
For the second time in four seasons, the Buffaloles will play in a CIF State Northern California Regional Bowl Game on Dec. 9 or 10. The pairings will be announced Sunday.