The Davis High Spartans needed a golden break, a kiss from the football gods.
They got it Friday night in the form of a tri-tip -- no, not a tasty dinner, but a serendipitous deflection of a pass to senior wide receiver Gabe Crudo. The pinball connection with 1:35 left flipped an almost certain Davis loss into a dramatic 18-14 Modesto Metro Conference victory over the snakebit-until-it-hurts Modesto Panthers at Johansen High.
The game-deciding play covered 64 yards and left both teams shaking their heads in disbelief.
Davis quarterback Wade Bettencourt threw to his right toward tight end Lance Castaneda, but the pass sailed high and tipped off Castaneda's left hand. It then bounced off the left hand of Modesto safety Chevy Chavarin, who redirected it to Crudo, who snared it with one hand near the sideline and raced 40 yards untouched into the end zone.
Good fortune for Davis (3-4, 1-1). An eye-poke for the winless Panthers (0-7, 0-2).
"I stuck one hand out there and caught it," Crudo said. "I can't (explain it). Unbelievable."
Modesto, staring at only the third winless season in school history, deserved a better fate. Not only did it not turn the ball over, it surged from a 6-0 halftime deficit into a 14-6 fourth-quarter lead behind promising sophomore quarterback Klayton Miller.
The Spartans countered on Bettencourt's 55-yard sideline lob to Castaneda, who stepped the final 30 yards to close the gap to 14-12. Bettencourt was stopped on the 2-point conversion try, however, and Modesto stayed in front with 5:02 to go.
Modesto then was stung with a bit of controversy. Miller (14 of 24 completions, 144 yards), tried to sneak on a 4th-and-2 from the Davis 37 in a play that looked more like a slow-motion rugby scrum. Miller appeared to cross the 35, but the ball was marked near the 36.
Davis feasted on its tri-tip on the next play.
"The official on our side said it was a first down, but he got overruled," Modesto coach Rod Long said. "My poor kids ... my heart goes out to my kids."
To no one's surprise, Davis -- celebrating Senior Night -- viewed it from a different angle.
"If Gabe Crudo isn't running hard and tuned in and doing what he's supposed to be doing, maybe he doesn't see that ball," Spartans coach Brad Goudeau said.
SUMMERVILLE 28, BRET HARTE 6, at Angels Camp -- Zach Roberson and Dustin Perkins were definitely in sync in the first half. The duo combined for three touchdowns to lead the Bears (4-1, 1-1 Mother Lode League) past the Bullfrogs (2-5, 0-2). Bret Harte's Robert Sailele had 21 carries for 146 yards.
Roberson finished 11 for 15 for 246 yards passing, and Perkins caught five passes for 153 yards. Dylan Day intercepted a pass on the 3-yard line in the fourth quarter, helping Summerville keep Bret Harte out of the end zone.
CALAVERAS 39, AMADOR 6, at San Andreas -- The Redskins (5-2, 2-0 MLL) gave up an early TD before grabbing control and running away from the Buffaloes (3-4, 1-1). Jack Fischer's 44-yard interception return made it 7-0, and after Amador cut it to 7-6, Steve Klich and Jake Mote bulled in for second-quarter TDs and a 19-6 lead. Nick Baatrup capped the win by hitting Ty Scawell with a 60-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter.
BIG VALLEY CHR. 42, JIM ELLIOT CHR. 14, at Modesto -- Blake Sturdivan continued to trample on the competition, carrying 18 times for 239 yards and four TDs as the Lions (6-0, 2-0 Harvest Christian League) routed the Eagles (2-5, 0-2).
WATERFORD 33, DENAIR 19, at Denair -- CJ DeDeaux tossed one TD and ran for another as the Wildcats (4-3, 2-0 Southern League) topped the Coyotes (0-7, 0-2). The game was tied at 13 after three quarters, before Kyle Hopper -- who caught a TD pass and ran in from 1-yard out earlier -- broke loose on a 40-yard TD run. DeDeaux later scored from 8 yards out and Tanner Headrick's 5-yard TD run finished it off.
TURLOCK CHR. 41, DELHI 0, at Delhi -- Eagles quarterback Robbie Smallwood completed 10 of 18 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles (3-4, 1-1 SL) kept the Hawks (0-7, 0-2 SL) scoreless this season.
Cody Alldrin hauled in five of those passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, sophomore James Riley carried the ball 17 times for 155 yards and two TDs.
PATTERSON 63, GUSTINE 7, at Patterson -- The Tigers (6-1, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) ran wild in a win over the Redskins (3-4, 0-2), with 318 yards on 24 carries. Emmanuel Brooks led the way (five carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs).
Seven Tigers rushed into the end zone, including Imani Brown on a 1-yard run. Brown also had 12 tackles and forced a fumble that was returned for a TD by Danny Arriola.
LIVINGSTON 41, ORESTIMBA 19, at Livingston -- Kevin Villalobos ran for 75 yards and a TD, and intercepted two passes as the Wolves (3-4, 1-1 WAC) topped the Warriors (3-4, 0-2). AJ Duran had three TD runs for the Wolves, who trailed 19-6 at halftime, and Alberto Milan recovered three fumbles to key the comeback.
The Warriors' Beta Estrada had a big day with seven catches for 163 yards, while teammate Daryle Pacheco returned a blocked field goal 85 yards for a TD and had a 78-yard TD run.
Bee staff contributed to this report.