The Manteca Jaguars varsity team didn’t finish the 2011 season empty-handed after missing out on a chance to play in the Cen-Cal Junior Football League Super Bowl.
The second-seeded Jags out of the NFC beat the AFC’s third-seeded Buhach Thunder 20-18 in an overtime thriller at Atwater High Sunday, Nov. 20. The Bill Clyde Friendship Bowl pits the losers of the two conference finals. Buhach previously defeated the Jaguars 27-0 on Sept. 3.
Manteca (9-4) came back from a 12-0 second-half deficit to force overtime. Mark Paule Jr. (16 rushes, 77 yards) closed the Jaguars in with a two-yard touchdown, and quarterback Austin Miller knotted it with a 3-yard keeper with over a minute remaining in regulation.
Miller came up big again on the opening possession of overtime, connecting with Adrian Aflleje for an 11-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal. Marcos Castillo converted the 2-point kick, which turned out to be huge.
Buhach (8-5) answered quickly with a touchdown but missed its conversion kick.
“It was a great game by both teams and a great way to end the season,” said Jaguars coach Mark Paule. “I am so proud of our players and coaches. Even when we were down we still fought to stay in the game and win it. Our players stepped up when we needed them to, and our coaches made all the right calls at the right time.
“The season could not have ended on a better note.”
The defense shined for Manteca throughout with Carlos Juarez and Mike Relloque each collecting seven tackles to lead the way. Relloque also forced a fumble and blocked a conversion kick. Other defensive standouts include: Nate Krebs (six tackles), Paule Jr. (four tackles, forced fumble), Alonso Garcia (four tackles), Anthony Sequeira (forced fumble, fumble recovery) and Damon Lynch (sack).