Patterson used a big halftime lead to send their seniors out with a 59-43 win over Golden Valley, clinching a share of the Central California Conference (CCC) title.
“I didn’t mention it to our kids [team] because we’re so focused on the outright title and controlling our own destiny. We don’t want to be content with sharing it, take our foot off the throttle, and cost next week. We want to handle business just as we’ve been doing since we started the winning streak. These guys realize what’s at stake, they want to finish the task at hand and want to be an outright champion,” said head coach Rob Cozart.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead thanks to their running game and special teams. Sean Hansen and Lolo Mataele scored on a pair of one-yard runs. A pair of explosive plays in the form of a 55-yard touchdown run from Jaydrian “JJ” Lawson and an 81-yard punt return touchdown from Javier Huizar gave Patterson a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Cougars would open the second quarter with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Eleazar Garza to Dammarrius Hammonds. Patterson’s quarterback Jacob Guevarra would make his impact on the game in the second quarter as well, being responsible for the Tigers scoring in the frame. Guevarra would score on an eight-yard run and find Huizar on a 25-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 42-7 at halftime.
“From the first week of CCC play the moto has been championship journey, championship effort and that hasn’t changed,” said Cozart.
The Tigers had opportunities to make their lead and the margin of victory wider but much like the Hilmar game penalties plagued some of the team’s drives. They finished the game with 12 penalties for 140 yards.
“We had some drive killers that slowed us down a little bit, but we overcame them and converted on some long third downs when we needed to, but I’m glad we got the win on senior night for our guys.”
The second half was when Golden Valley got going by not electing for the running clock (unlike most opponents Patterson has blown out in the first half} outscoring the Tigers 36-17 in the half. They would score on a pair touchdown passes from Garza; and the Tigers would match that with a pair of scores. Lawson ran in for a two-yard touchdown and Johan Mendoza would connect on a 39-yard field goal, making the score 52-19 after three quarters.
As the lead was shrinking and the Cougars started the fourth quarter scoring, everyone knew an onside kick was coming and both teams were lined up in their onside formations until Golden Valley decided to kick it deep. The ball would roll to the eight-yard line, Lawson would pick it up from there and turn it into a house call, scoring on a 92-yard kick return touchdown putting the game on ice as the Tigers extended their lead to 59-27 midway through the fourth. Things would get a little interesting towards the end of the game as Golden Valley scored a couple of explosive runs that were 50+ yards tallying the final score 59-43.
The final regular season game is tomorrow against Buhach Colony at Atwater High School. A win gives the program it’s first CCC title and automatic entry into the Sac-Joaquin Division 3 playoffs.