HILMAR — With his unbeaten Hilmar teammates clinging to a 17-14 fourth-quarter lead against upset-minded Libery Ranch, senior David Bisby took matters into his own hands on Friday night.
The nose guard took a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, broke two tackles and rumbled 38 yards for the score to lift Hilmar to a 31-14 victory in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs.
The Yellowjackets, who improved to 11-0, will host Escalon in the second round next Friday night. The Cougars beat Amador 37-0.
Hilmar beat Escalon 28-14 three weeks ago.
That turned the whole game around, Hilmar coach Frank Marques saud if Bisbys interception. It was monumental.
So much so, the longtime coach handed out a game ball for the first time in his coaching career. It, of course, went to his 230-pound captain.
The score ended any fears of a huge upset and an end to a perfect season for the second-seeded Yellowjackets.
Liberty Ranch (6-5), which was seeded 15th, stunned the Hilmar crowd when it took a 14-7 lead into the locker room at the half.
We knew looking at the film they were athletic and had a lot of defensive speed, Marques said. They made a couple of big plays.
Hilmar had never trailed all season. Some unbeaten teams in that position might have gotten nervous. Not the Yellowjackets.
They were really calm at halftime, Marques said. If you walked into our locker room, you would not have believed they were down. They were very businesslike.
I wish I could say I had a great motivational speech to fire them up. But I didnt.
Trent Orsocos 14-yard run tied the game early in the third quarter. Devin Medeiros put the Yellowjackets up 17-14 with a 30-yard field goal, setting the stage for Bisby.
Bisby was in right place at the right time, Marques said, after the Liberty Ranch quarterback, about to be sacked, had his pass tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Marques, who earlier this year claimed is 100th coaching victory, is looking to go 12-0 for only the second time in career, he said.
His Yellowjackets were 12-0 in 2005 before ending the season with a 23-0 loss to Escalon in the Division 4 Section final.
• ESCALON 37, HILMAR 0 Frankie Bavaro rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars into the second round of the playoffs and a rematch with Hilmar.
Escalon rolled up 356 yards of total offense and held Amador out of Cougar territory for the entire game.
Bavaro scored the first touchdow of the game and the last touchdown of a 20-point second quarter to put the game away against the seventh-seeded Buffaloes, who finished a successful season at 9-2.
Escalon, the No. 10 seed, improved to 7-4. Three of its losses have come to playoff teams Pacheco, Ripon and Hilmar.