SACRAMENTO — Manteca came into this Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal clash believing it could dash Inderkum’s perfect season
Instead, it was the Tigers (12-0) who sent visiting Buffaloes home packing Friday with a 43-18 loss to set up next week’s showdown in Oakdale. The No. 2 seeded Mustangs did their part by taking care of No. 10 Benicia.
Manteca (9-3), at No. 6, had the momentum early on against No. 3 Inderkum, taking the opening drive 47 yards on seven plays for the score. Jose Garcia set things up with a 40-yard kickoff return before Marcus Rivas powered his way into the end zone with a 9-yard run.
“We came out ready to play,” Rivas said. “We were up for the fight.”
The Tigers were equally up for the task, answering right back by marching 77 yards on nine plays.
Quarterback Trajon Cotton slung a 35-yard scoring strike to Isaiah Crocker.
The Buffaloes came back with sophomore quarterback Gino Campiotti scrambling and stopping to find Jake Menasco all alone on the 31-yard scoring play.
Manteca dodged a bullet when an Inderkum interception was negated by penalty.
The Buffaloes ended the first quarter ahead, 12-8. Coach Eric Reis knew that his team could least afford to make mistakes against the Tigers.
“That’s a very good team that will make you pay,” he said.
The Tigers did just that in the second quarter, scoring 22 unanswered points.
Outside Nate Tupai’s 11-yard TD, Cotton did most of the damage.
He found Josh Falo on a 16-yard TD pass and later connected again with Crocker on a 48-yard bomb.
In the second half, Cotton secured his team’s victory with a 45-yard pick six. He also scored on a quarterback keeper towards the end of the game.
Prior to that, Manteca was still within striking distance despite trailing 30-12 at the half.
“The challenge (to us) was to take it one play at a time,” Reis said to his team.
It started with the defense with James Thomas, Harold Lopa and Javaun Dunn converging on several quarterback stops.
Campiotti got into a nice groove, hitting Damon Lynch on passes of 15 and 10 while connecting with Garcia for 9 more. Rivas scored from the 3.
The Buffaloes also missed on a 27-yard field goal midway in the third.
“We really wanted this game,” Campiotti said. “It hurts to lose this one because we believed in ourselves.”
He credited the senior leadership for helping him out throughout the year.
“I want to take on that leadership to build for next year,” Campiotti said.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, firstname.lastname@example.org.