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Tracy celebrates special night with win over Sierra
Sierra running back Reid Maestas tries to muster up extra yardage while getting wrapped up by Tracy linebacker Nate Jones. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

Sierra    7    0    8    6    — 21
Tracy    6    2    7    17    — 32

First quarter
S — Reid Maestas 2 run (Joshua Gonzalez kick), 2:29.
T — Nate Jones 88 kickoff (kick missed), 2:16.
Second quarter
T — Safety, 7:36.
Third quarter
T— Jones 44 run (Anthony Karjalainen kick), 10:13.
S — Maestas 31 run (Hunter Johnson pass from Jake Pruitt), 5:22.
Fourth quarter
T — Robbie Ramirez 31 pass from Damon Stroup (Karjalainen kick), 11:53.
T — Ramirez 19 pass from Stroup (Karjalainen kick), 9:01.
S — Lucas Widmer 15 pass from Pruitt (kick missed), 5:34.
T — Karjalainen 22 field goal, 0:50.

Reid Maestas, Sierra RB: 14 rushes, 89 yards, 2 TDs
Damon Stroup, Tracy QB: 6-10, 117 yards, 2 TDs; 12 rushes, 55 yards
Robbie Ramirez, Tracy RB: 5 rushes, 31 yards; 3 receptions, 85 TDs, 2 TDs
Nate Jones, Tracy FB: 8 rushes, 85 yards; 88-yard kickoff TD

TRACY— The halftime show at the newly-christened Wayne Schneider Stadium was a fitting metaphor for Sierra High’s season opener at Tracy.

The lights went out following performances from Tracy High cheerleaders and its band.



The expected explosion from two potent offenses didn’t come until the second half, as lights-out defenses ruled the opening two quarters. But in the end, it was Tracy that came through with the decisive game-breaking plays and a 32-21 victory.

The Bulldogs, who are expected to challenge San Joaquin Athletic Association king Lincoln for its throne, celebrated the opening of their state-of-the-art facility carpeted by FieldTurf in style. It was their first game on campus since Nov. 4, 2011.

“Tracy’s a very solid team,” said Sierra coach Jeff Harbison, whose team is coming off a 10-2 season. “They stymied our offense tonight. They have some athletes and they play good football.”

One of those athletes is 6-foot-2, 215-pound lineman George Obinna, who had two sacks before hobbling off the field with an ankle injury. His second sack of Sierra QB Jake Pruitt went for a safety with 7:36 left in the second quarter, and Tracy carried its 8-7 lead into halftime.

“You just have to go get at it,” Obinna said of defending Sierra’s high-octane spread offense. “I feel like the defense came together and just got it done.”

Tracy’s triple-option offense, led by quarterback Damon Stroup, took over in the second half as Sierra’s defense began to wear down. He managed to outshine the more-heralded Pruitt (25-40, 188, TD), finishing with 117 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-10 passing while adding 55 yards on 12 rushes.

“We had a lot of kids go both ways tonight, something we haven’t done much of in the past,” Harbison said. “We threw some kids in and I’m very proud of their effort tonight.

“It just came down to three mistakes.”

Two of those mistakes led to big runs from speedy fullback/special teams returner Nate Jones.

Moments after Sierra’s Reid Maestas scored the game’s first points on a 2-yard run for Sierra, Jones broke an 88-yard kickoff return to swing the momentum. Later, he went untouched on a 44-yard touchdown while capping the opening second-half drive.

The third big miscue Harbison cited was a blown coverage in the defensive backfield on the first play of the fourth quarter, and it was a backbreaker. Robbie Ramirez was wide open on a 31-yard touchdown catch-and-run, pushing the Bulldogs ahead for good, 22-15. Stroup connected with Ramirez again for a scoring strike of 19 yards that widened their lead to 29-15.

Pruitt hit Lucas Widmer for an 11-yard TD that kept Sierra within range, but Tracy sealed the win with a 5-minute, 43-second drive that culminated in a 22-yard field goal with 50 seconds left.

As tough a loss as it was for the Timberwolves, there were several positives.

Maestas, at least for one game, proved to be an adequate replacement for three-year star running back Anthony Cota. He compiled 89 yards and two touchdowns

“We’re playing up in competition to prepare us for league,” Harbison said. “This loss doesn’t have any consequences on winning a league championship, so we’ll just get back to work Monday and try and build from this.”