Patterson won its first outright Central California Conference (CCC) title defeating Buhach Colony 51-20, thanks a huge fourth quarter to close the game.
“Today was an historic day. The first time we win the CCC we’re outright champions on both the junior varsity and varsity level (first time since 2015). We started a little rocky and has some mistakes, but we settled down and played Tiger football,” said head coach Rob Cozart.
Mistakes speak to another heavily penalized game from the Tigers (13-100 yards), and the Tigers were only up eight, 28-20 going into the fourth quarter.
“I feel like our guys flipped a switch and didn’t want to finish the game that tight, knowing it was they kicked it into another gear and put forth the best team fourth quarter we’ve had all year,” said Cozart.
The Tigers outscored Buhach 23-0 in a dominant fourth quarter scoring off a 51-yard run by Jaydrian Lawson, a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Guevarra to Javier Huizar, a 19-yard touchdown run from Sean Hansen, and a safety courtesy of a Buhach Colony special teams’ error.
Patterson finished the season on an eight-game winning streak and looking like a different team from the start of the season. Winning league secures them a spot in the Division 3 bracket, and likely the team has earned themselves another home game.
At the start of the game outright champions was anything except a forgone conclusion. Buhach’s ball control style of offense, coupled with Patterson penalties and miscues made this one competitive.
The Tigers started the games’ scoring when Guevarra found Lawson wide open for a 13-yard touchdown and they never relinquished the lead throughout the game. The Thunder responded with a 16-yard touchdown run from Jaxson Percoats to tie the game going into the second quarter.
The air attack would continue to find success in the second as Guevarra threw his second and third touchdown of the game, connecting with Huizar on a 32-yard pass and with Damion Rosado on a 34-yard scoring giving the Tigers some breathing space up 21-7.
Buhach wouldn’t go down into the half without a response as they also found success in the passing game scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass cutting the lead back down to seven. The first half had a bizarre ending as the Tigers were at the goal line threatening to score in the closing seconds. A false start penalty caused the final seconds to run off the clock and keep the game at 21-14 at halftime.
The Thunder would capitalize on momentum going into halftime and score on a 80-yard punt return from Percoats to open the second half (extra point no good) cutting the lead to 21-20. From that point on the Tigers locked in and shutdown Buhach’s ability to score. The Tigers ended the third quarter the same way the fourth started, on a Lawson touchdown run.
With the league title wrapped up the Tigers get to celebrate while on their bye week and await their opponent for the postseason.
“In this situation the week 11 bye helps out perfectly. This the first time we had the bye this late in the season and it’s kind of new for us and this group will embrace it more than anything because we need it at this point going into playoffs to have everyone healthy.”
With the team that hasn’t lost since the leaves started changing colors, playing in the division 3 bracket could set up a possible rematch with other division three opponents, like Manteca who faced a vastly inexperienced group back in August.
“The biggest thing is at that point a lot of guys had just came up and played five games on the JV, played their first varsity games in the spring, or didn’t play at all in the spring season. A lot of them didn’t even have a full varsity season. It was a lot of maturity that happened of these last eight games, I truly believe this team is completely different from the one that lost to Manteca and to have those teams back on our schedule (division three schools) again, outcomes could probably be different 9 out 10 times, that might be the one time that they get us.”