MODESTO — The Sierra High Timberwolves of Manteca began their dominance with a tiny stream, which grew into a river and by game's end Friday night, tumbled into a raging sea.
The Grace Davis Spartans walked slowly off the turf of Dan Gonsalves Stadium while Sierra posed for photographs. Davis even yielded a touchdown on the final play, ending a 55-14 rout. The score does not indicate that Davis was competitive for 2½ quarters.
Not so the last 1½.
"Their program has been winning. Our program has to learn how to win," Davis coach Chris Cloward summarized. "Our next step is to manage a game all the way through."
The Spartans' win last week over East Union was only their sixth since 2010. Against superior opponents like Sierra (1-1), Davis must take tiny steps rather than grasp beyond its reach.
Missing opportunities from the Sierra 20, 10 and 22 the subtext for the Timberwolves' late explosion forms the start of Davis' preparation for next week's game against Patterson.
"You have to tip your cap to Sierra," Cloward said. "They started to wear us down with their linemen."
Junior quarterback Zach Magana, slogging through his second varsity game, completed 15 of 32 passes for 136 yards and two touchdown passes to McKylby Kao. Three of Magana's tosses were intercepted, however, two by senior Bryson Sanders.
His first take-away, a 59-yard pick-6 game-changer during the second quarter, demonstrated Sierra's dominance. Until then, Davis trailed only 20-14 and was gaining momentum at the Sierra 30.
The Timberwolves sent about half the student body at Magana, who reeled to his left and tried to throw the ball away. Instead, the ball barely left his hand, caromed off the chest of Adam Bettencourt, wobbled away from Storm Anderson and nestled into Sanders' arms. All he had ahead of him were stripes.
"I just saw it in the air and grabbed it," Sanders said.
The big play spiced a big night for Sanders, who also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jake Pruitt for the game's first points, one of his six catches for 53 yards.
After Sanders' interception return, Davis' confidence sagged. The Spartans scraped for only three first downs the rest of the night while Sierra accelerated.
The Timberwolves also featured placekicker Marissa LaQuaglia, who drilled seven of eight extra points (her miss was due to a poor snap). She even overcame a nasty hit during the first half.
"He caught me in the shin and knocked me down. I just got back up," LaQuaglia said. "I'm just trying to whatever I can for my team."
So did Sierra's Jonathan Montoya (10 carries, 135 yards, 2 touchdowns), who did most of his damage during his team's 21-0 blitz the final 9:55. Reid Maestas (14 carries, 99 yards), rushed for a touchdown and also passed 38 yards to Lucas Widmer for another score.
The total yardage, 449-192, eventually paralled the final score.
"It unraveled at the end. Varsity football is a game of momentum," Cloward said. "Our seniors need to step up."
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron via Twitter, @modbeesports.