Long touchdown runs by Jose Bautista and Charles Jackson lifted the Atwater High football to a 14-7 win over El Capitan on Friday night at Stadium ’76.
Bautista got the scoring started with a 65-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“We moved him in the backfield to get him more touches and is made a different today,” said Atwater coach Seneca Ybarra, whose team improved to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the Central California Conference.
The Gauchos (2-7, 1-5) have been banged up in the second half of the season and it continued against the Falcons. El Capitan played without starting quarterback Kevin Reid.
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Receiver Adrian Moreno started at quarterback for the Gauchos and scored on a 57-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.
The game stayed that way until the start of the fourth quarter when Jackson broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run that give the Falcons a 14-7 lead with 10:42 left in the game.
The Atwater defense made the lead stand up and one year after going 0-10 the Falcons have three wins this season.
“I think the kids can see the improvement,” Ybarra said. “Physically is the biggest thing. Physically we’ve been able to compete more. Last year we were being pushed around. We’re still a young team. We put the ball on the ground a lot and it drives me crazy, but we can see the improvement.”
Pitman 41, Golden Valley 7 in Turlock – The Cougars (0-9, 0-5 CCC) trailed just 14-7 after the first quarter bu the Pride outscored GV 27-0 to close out the game. Golden Valley will finish the season at home against Merced in the Battle for the Mayor’s Cup.
Los Banos 40, Livingston 27 in Livingston – Anthony Caballero accounted for four touchdowns as the Tigers (8-1, 3-1 Western Athletic Conference) rebounded from last week’s blowout loss to Patterson. Caballero completed Caballero 12of 20 passes for 289 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also led the Tigers in rushing with 105 yards and a touchdown.
Both Paulie Calderon and Daniel Guerrero finished with three catches for 109 yards. Guerrero caught two touchdowns.
Livingston’s Jose Maldonado tossed two touchdown passes.
Pacheco 46, Ceres 15 in Ceres – The Panthers (5-4, 3-1 WAC) kept their playoff hopes alive with a road win. Shane Barton scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 30 yards for Pacheco, which will host Los Banos next week in the Crosstown Clash.
Hilmar 40, Mountain House 29 in Hilmar – The Yellowjackets (5-4, 2-2 Trans-Valley League) were another team in must-win mode this week and they got it done at home against Mountain House. Isaac Sharp scored on a 69-yard run and later added a 59-yard touchdown catch from Tristan Crowley for Hilmar.
Crowley threw three touchdowns and ran for another.
Ripon Christian 34, Le Grand 14 in Ripon – Bubba Lara returned an interception 72 yards to give the Bulldogs (2-7, 1-4 Southern League) an early 7-0 lead, but it was all Knights from there. Michael Kamps led RC with 27 carries for 153 and a touchdown. Kamps also had two interceptions on defense.
Orestimba 45, Delhi 8, in Newman – Jacob Bettencourt threw three touchdowns and Tymon Bolden rushed for two more as the small-school No. 1 Warriors improved to 9-0 and 6-0 in the Southern League.
After missing last week’s game with an injury, talented two-way junior Tyler Vargas returned to the field. Vargas had two touchdown catches and an interception.
The victory sets up a winner-take-all showdown with rival Gustine. At stake: the SL crown and The Chief, a 5-foot wooden statue. Gustine leads the all-time series 35-34-2, but the Warriors have won 10 of the last 12 meetings, including two straight.
Big Valley Christian 58, Riverbank 37 – Sophomore Javyn Drobnick rushed for a Stanislaus District-high 369 yards as the Lions tied the best start in program history. Big Valley Christian is one of four unbeaten teams in the Stanislaus District, joining Central Catholic, Orestimba and Gregori. The Lions close the season at Stone Ridge Christian, a game that will determine the Central California Athletic Alliance crown.
– Merced Sun-Star reporter Shawn Jansen and Bee reporter James Burns contributed to this report.