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Spartans finally taste victory
Lathrop High receiver Nilo Yuson gets into open space during an electric 82-yard would-be touchdown that was negated by a Spartan personal foul. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

LATHROP – Kenny Garrett not only led Lathrop High to its first victory of the season, but he also helped the Spartans record their first-ever win over a Manteca Unified rival, snapping an 18-game intra-district losing streak.

Garrett piloted the offense in impressive fashion, using both his arm and his legs during a 35-15 Valley Oak League victory over East Union (0-4 VOL, 1-6 overall) at Bennie Gatto Field.

“It feels good to get a win,” said Garrett, who finished 12 for 25 with 184 yards, two touchdowns and a rushing TD. “We worked as a team more than we have all season. We were having fun tonight, and I think that was the winning factor.

“This is probably the best passing team we’ve had at this school. Our passing game is probably the strongest part of our offense right now. We didn’t expect this, but we knew it was possible.”

Lathrop (1-3, 1-6) drew first blood in the first quarter after Garrett found Josh Elliot for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.

East Union made it 7-7 with a 1-yard touchdown from standout Victor Lopez (11 carries, 56 yards) with 9:37 left in the second quarter.

“We just couldn’t stop them on third down,” said East Union head coach Willie Herrera, who also pointed out Lathrop didn’t punt one time all night. “They did a fantastic job of keeping the ball and keeping us off the field. They totally took the time of possession away.”

Lathrop went up 13-7 after Garrett tossed his second touchdown, this one to Jairell McClain, who saw a significant amount of playing time since usual starter Kevin Rainey was out Fullback Hawaii Leaf a Teo’s carries were limited as he played with a sore ankle. McClain scored on a 45-yard strike that had 40 yards after the catch.

On the next East Union possession, Nilo Yusan picked off Isaiah Gordon and returned the interception 88 yards for a touchdown as the first-half clock expired.

Yuson also had a 82-yard touchdown pass from Garrett erased in the second quarter because of a Spartan personal foul.

“We caught a big break prior to the half with that interception, that kind of electrified us and allowed us to gain the momentum,” Lathrop head coach Steve Wichman said. “That really lit a fire for our kids and we were able to sustain momentum going into the second half.”

Lathrop pieced together a 5-minute, 33-second drive to start the third quarter, capped by an Elliot 1-yard touchdown rush to make it 25-7. The Lancers went three-and-out on their next possession, and they didn’t get the ball back until the fourth quarter.

Lathrop kept the ball for the rest of the third quarter and went up 32-7 with 11:28 left in regulation after Garrett kept it for a 1-yard score.

East Union’s Jose Maltez scored on a 26-yards scamper to cut the deficit to 17. Lathrop’s kicker, senior Eric De Leon, made up the final score with a 40-yard field goal with 1:02 left to play.

Lathrop will be at home against Sonora Friday, and East Union will host Sierra.