LATHROP – It was business as usual for the Sierra High Timberwolves.
In Friday’s Valley Oak League game at Benny Gatto Field, they dismantled the winless Lathrop Spartans, 46-0.
Anthony Cota, Sierra’s record-setting running back, added to his tally, scoring three more touchdowns on the ground. He racked up 149 yards on 23 carries, turned a short pass into a 45-yard score, and also threw for a TD.
That’s with some changes made to the offensive line.
“They filled in well and did what they had to do to get us points on the board,” Timberwolves coach Jeff Harbison said.
In the process, Sierra (5-1, 8-1) kept pace with first-place Oakdale in the VOL standings.
Lathrop (0-6, 0-9) was celebrating senior night.
The enthusiasm of the pregame event carried over on to the field as the Spartans came out strong on defense, keeping the Timberwolves in check on their first possession. Leading the way was linebacker Brandon Geaney, who had an unassisted stop in the sequence.
Lathrop has unable to get its offense in gear and was forced to punt.
It was here that Sierra punt returner Jordan Lewis, who fielded the ball on a bounce from his own 20, found plenty of open spaces in coverage. He scooted 80 yards for the score.
The Timberwolves opted for the two-point conversion following a Spartan penalty. Cota, operating out of the Wildcat formation, took the ball in to make it 8-0.
Lathrop coughed the ball up on its next possession, with Sierra defensive tackle Devin Manaois recovering the fumble at midfield.
Quarterback Jake Pruitt, following Cota’s 17-yard run, found Lewis on the catch-and-run pass that netted 33 yards. Cota capped off the drive with a 2-yard TD.
The Spartans got some stellar play on defense from likes of Geaney, Preston Rizo and Rudy Valencia. Still, the Timberwolves found ways to move the ball. They increased their first-quarter lead to 16-0 thanks to Joshua Gonzalez’s 27-yard field goal.
Sierra put the game out of the reaching the second quarter.
Cota turned passer out of the Wildcat, hitting Garrett DeVillanueva on a 6-yard scoring strike. He later turned Pruitt’s swing pass into a 45-yard touchdown play and added one more TD on a short run.
Cota’s night ended early in the third quarter on his 16-yard touchdown run.
Harbison will take the win.
“It was not a crisp game (for us),” he said. “Penalties hurt us and we had some blown assignments that may have held us back a bit.”
Spartans coach Jesse Rodriguez was none too thrilled about his team’s play.
“We continued to play with inconsistency,” he said.
Rodriguez, whose team had four turnovers in the loss – Oscar Rico had an interception for Sierra – is hoping to close out the season next week at Kimball with a strong showing. “I know we got our work cut out for us,” he said.