The Patterson High football team wasn’t fazed by its opponent’s perfect record, big-play offense or home-field advantage.
In Los Banos, Patterson saw flashes of Downey, Modesto and Palo Alto, teams it put on its non-conference schedule for meaningful games in late October and November.
Gabe Sanchez threw three more touchdowns, including two to James Perez, and Joseph McGarry proved to be a game-changer in a surprise start as Patterson handed Los Banos its first loss, 49-14.
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“Our guys were extremely prepared for that reason. We have these types of games under our belt,” coach Rob Cozart said. “We’ve gone against teams like that with faster moving parts – Downey and Modesto, and even a quick refresher with Ceres. (Los Banos isn’t) the only ones that run zone read or fly sweep or QB power. We’ve seen those and that helped.
“Los Banos had some success, but our guys were so mentally focused knowing what was at stake.”
With the win, Patterson (7-1, 3-0) has the inside track to its second WAC title in three years. After losing eight of its 10 games last fall, Cozart said his senior class is “unleashing” all of that frustrating on their opponents.
Patterson has won six consecutive games and will be heavy favorites against Central Valley and Livingston to close the regular season.
“These guys are so locked in,” Cozart said. “I’ve never seen a team like this. Even with the 2015 team (which finished the regular season 10-0), I would worry. They were a talented bunch, but they would practice like a talented bunch.
“These guys work hard at every practice. These guys get frustrated when things don’t go right. They’ve experienced the other end of the spectrum and know what happens when you don’t work hard at practice. They have that fight and that hunger and they’re unleashing it this year.”
Los Banos had a chance to set the tone Friday, but failed to convert a first-and-goal from the Patterson 2 on the opening drive.
“Everything just went wrong from there,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “It was just us dropping the ball. We would catch the ball for 9 yards and then fumble. We’d run the ball for 5 yards and fumble.
“It was stuff we haven’t done all year. Maybe the big game got to us.”
Or maybe it was McGarry, a reserve until last week. The junior started in place of Joe Okitukunda, who served a one-game suspension Friday.
McGarry forced two fumbles, picked off one pass and had five tackles. He also scored a rushing touchdown.
Sanchez was 10 of 13 for 159 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 100 yards.
Perez was his top target. He caught eight passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Kendrick Bond had two catches for 64 yards. He also had a 78-yard scoring run.
Phabian Portillo and Jacob Vainuku also had rushing touchdowns for Patterson.
“We’re not peaking,” Cozart said. “These guys, they’re hungry and they’re definitely determined, and they’re taking everything they’ve got out on anyone who comes in their way.”
On Friday, Los Banos found itself in the crosshairs.
Los Banos trailed 33-0 when Anthony Caballero (13 of 24, 228 yards, two TDs) laced a 24-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Guerrero.
Los Banos (7-1, 2-1) wouldn’t score again until there was a running clock and substitutes in the game.
Antonio Lopez was held to 95 yards on 22 carries.
Los Banos hosts Livingston next week.