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Second half all Buffaloes in rout of Central Valley
The effects of an emotionally-draining loss to Oakdale week ago plagued Manteca High over the first two quarters of play, but the second half was all Buffaloes in a 37-7 Valley Oak League win over the visiting Central Valley Hawks Friday.

Manteca (4-2 VOL, 6-3 overall) lacked the early intensity that has carried the squad throughout the season, but after some strong urging from the Buffaloes coaching staff at halftime, the team responded with a solid effort, outscoring the Hawks 29-7 in the second half.

“We chewed a little tail at halftime,” Manteca head coach Eric Reis said. “We thought the first half we were a little lethargic. As much as you don’t want to say there was a letdown after last week, it was.”

The Buffaloes cruised into halftime sporting a less-than-comfortable 8-0 lead and with the team’s postseason future in the balance, Manteca responded with physical play on defense and a punishing ground game compliments of Marquis Miller.

“I felt like the coaches looked upon me to come out that second half and step it up and be a leader,” Miller said. “They wanted me to show the bruising back that I am.

“We all just wanted to make sure we got the victory.”

Miller more than held up his end of the deal, rushing for 107 yards in the pivotal second half including three touchdowns. The senior tailback finished the game with 147 yards on 26 carries, making as many defenders miss as he was able to run through.

Once the offense s got their aspect clicking the defense stepped in and haulted any palns Central Valley had of coming in and upsetting Manteca. After a Buffalo miscue led to Central Valley’s only score, the Manteca defense shut them down for the remainder of the contest.

“We showed heart in that second half,” Manteca defensive standout Adam DeCosta said. “We had some troubles and then we made some adjustments and the coaches told us what to do.

“In the second half we did nearly everything right.”

Decosta sealed the deal when he raced up and hauled in a tipped Central Valley pass, returning it 24 yards for a Manteca touchdown.

“I love our defense,” DeCosta said of his teammates. “We come to hit every day; in practice, in the games. Defensively we feel like we’re the best team in the league.
“Our record doesn’t show it, but this was a big win for us and the playoffs.”

Manteca got solid play out of backup signal caller Matt Burrows, who started off a little shaky with two first half interceptions, but settled down and managed the game effectively over the final 24 minutes of action.

Dewey Uecker provided Manteca with its first points, hauling in a 28-yard Jacob Salas touchdown pass on a trick play in which Salas took a handoff from Burrows, sprinted right and saw Uecker alone inside the 10-yard-line.

Manteca will have to close out the season with a strong showing against East Union High, keeping its postseason aspirations alive with a successful five-win VOL season.

“This week of practice wasn’t great, so we really challenged our players,” Reis said. “We told them we’re a better football team than this and if you want to compete for a section championship you’ve got to show it.

“In the second half I think we did that.”