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Spartans stave off Ceres
Lathrop nearly botches 20-point lead in WAC opener
Ceres-Lathrop football
Lathrop’s Sean Teu tackles Ceres’ Donovan Osuna. - photo by Wayne Thallander


Ceres 0 8 0 13 – 21

Lathrop 7 9 12 0 – 28


First quarter

L — Julio Garcia 2 run (Oscar Ruvalcaba kick), 7:20


Second quarter

L — Ruvalcaba 33 field goal, 9:39

L — Andre Muqhar 3 run (kick fail), 2:17

C — Matthew Martinez 63 run (Daniel Davis pass from Donovan Osuna), 1:27


Third quarter

L — Muqhar 59 run (kick fail), 4:26

L — Pablo Pena 13 run (run fail), 2:16


Fourth quarter

C — Reis Smith 15 pass from Osuna (kick fail), 5:10

C — Ernie Miranda 70 pass from Osuna (Gilbert Nuno kick), :46


Leading by three scores midway through the third quarter Friday, Lathrop seemed well on its way to opening the Western Athletic Conference campaign with a win over visiting Ceres.

But the Bulldogs were going to make the Spartans earn it as Ceres scored twice in the final five minutes of the game including a 70-yard touchdown bomb with less than a minute left followed by a nearly successful onside kick. Adrian Padilla managed to cover that onside kick for Lathrop as the Spartans held on for a 28-21 win at Bennie Gatto Field.

“I wish we would have put the game away when it was 28-8,” Lathrop coach Ryan Teicheira said. “We didn’t continue our blocks like we should, and we missed some blocks and we didn’t make the adjustments at the line of scrimmage that we should. There were times that they got us and they took advantage of their opportunities.

“Overall, there was a lot of good we showed tonight. We hit some plays and put some drives together that was our style of football, and we also had drives that stalled that for us is not what we preach with the lack of physicality on those drives.”

The Bulldogs (0-1 WAC, 1-3 overall) tallied 273 yards on offense, but nearly half of that came on two plays — a 63-yard reverse for a touchdown by Matthew Martinez with 1:27 left in the first half, and then with 46 seconds left in the game Ernie Miranda pulled in a 70-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Osuna.

Padilla covered the ensuing onside kick to help seal the win.

“Things were getting close there at the end and it was becoming a game again, so I just knew I had to go get the ball on that kickoff,” Padilla said. 

Padilla helped get the Spartans (1-0, 2-2) out to a 22-8 third-quarter lead when early in the period he snagged an interception that led to an eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive capped by Andre Muqhar’s second touchdown of the night, this one coming on a 59-yard run to go with his second-quarter 3-yard scoring plunge.

“That interception got us going the right direction,” Padilla said. “I’m just glad we made something off of the pick.”

Following the 59-yard romp by Muqhar (nine carries, 114 yards), he recovered the ensuing squib kick giving Lathrop the ball at the Ceres 24-yard line.  

“I couldn’t do it without my line,” Muqhar said. “They work their butts off on every play.

“And the ball on the kickoff was right where it needed to go and their guy missed the catch.”

Pablo Pena (13 carries, 103 yards) scored four plays after Muqhar’s squib-kick recovery on a 13-yard run to put the Spartans ahead 28-8.

“Just like Muqhar said, I gotta give it up to the offensive line,” Pena said. “At first I wasn’t doing too much but in the second half I figured I had to step it up a bit.