LOS BANOS Since Pacheco High football came on the scene three years ago, Los Banos High's stance has been, "It's not a rivalry until they beat us."
The Crosstown Clash is now officially a rivalry after Pacheco defeated Los Banos 24-7 on Friday.
"Our defense rose to the occasion all night. They're the stars of the game," Pacheco coach David Snapp said. "We take our hats off to them. They kept us in it. We play hard football, we play physical football. Even making the mistakes we did, we never quit, we kept fighting, and that's our mantra."
Those mistakes included turnovers on Pacheco's first two drives a Juwan Epperson interception to LB's Gilbert Fuentes and a Frank Ginda fumble that was picked up by LB linebacker Alec Barcellos.
The fumble led to the first score of the night, a 1-yard touchdown charge by Los Banos fullback Bailey Rodriguez. It was the Tigers' only points of the night.
"I think our team is based on defense," said Pacheco receiver/defensive back Adam Perez, who sealed the game with a fourth-quarter interception. "I'm an offensive player, but if you've been to all our games, I'm more of a defensive player this year. Defense wins championships."
Pacheco scored 14 quick points in the last minutes of the first half, starting with a 48-yard Epperson pass to tight end Hunter Mendez on a quick slant. Mendez had one step on the Los Banos secondary, but it was enough to escape the Tigers' outstretched hands. After a Tiger three-and-out, Epperson tossed a 35-yard pass to Librado Velazquez, which set up a 7-yard Epperson keeper for the score.
Pacheco almost added another in the final second of the half when Mendez picked up a fumble near the Pacheco 25-yard line and took off, but LB's Michael Garcia caught him after about 60 yards.
"You've got to take advantage of those opportunities," Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said.
The loss left Los Banos at 5-5 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2007, while Pacheco (7-2, 4-2 Western Athletic Conference) is playoff-bound for the second straight year.