Downey High did something Friday night no Modesto City Schools football team has done since 1999 — win a road playoff game.
The Knights scored 35 points in the first quarter and rolled past a suspension-depleted Grant team 57-27 in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs.
“I don’t care if they were missing players tonight or not,” Downey coach Jeremy Plaa said by phone on the team bus as it was heading back to Modesto . “We beat them.”
Actually, they crushed them.
The Pacers were without 10 players — eight of them starters — after a brawl in the final game of regular season against Whitney.
Even if Grant had them, the Pacers might have had a hard time with Downey, which had solid performances on both sides of the ball.
The Knights scored early and often, jumping out to a 21-0 lead. After Grant scored a touchdown, Downey answered quickly when quarterback Bryce Goucker and wide receiver Anderson Grover connected on a 75-yard scoring play to go up 28-7.
“(Grant) came out kind of flat,” Plaa said. “We scored two quick touchdowns. There was no momentum on their side.”
Grant coach Mike Alberghini, whose quarterback was constantly under pressure, didn’t make any excuses.
“We also lost three starting offensive linemen and had to change all of our long snappers,” Alberghini told the Sacramento Bee. “But I’m not going to cry about it and it’s not like they (Sac-Joaquin Section) went out of their way to punish us. The rule is the rule.”
Downey led 43-13 at haltime, and a running clock was used in the fourth quarter. It was a far cry from two previous blowout losses in the playoffs to Grant in 2013 and 2014.
Goucker threw four first-half touchdown passes — two to Grover, one to Bryce Peterson (49 yards) and another to Robert Rivera (32 yards), who also had a 9-yard rushing TD. The defense tacked on a safety. Jordan Wilson also scored in on a 20-yard TD run.
In the second half, Goucker and Anderson connected again on a 29-yard pass play and Jordan scored from a yard out.
Plaa said it was a physical game, and even got “chippy” toward the end. He said contests earlier this season against McClymonds, Merced and Turlock prepared his team for Friday’s game.
A message he delivered to his players early in the week also helped.
After learning of the likelihood of Grant suspensions over the weekend, Plaa said he and his coaches had to give their players a “sales job” on Monday to keep them focused.
“We told them we could do it, and they believed it,” Plaa said. “We had a good week of practice.”
More words of wisdom by coaches was getting the players to understand that with Downey likely entrenched in Division II, future posteason matchups with Grant were likely. So, nothing like the present to send a message.
“It’s a big win for the program,” said Plaa, whose 11th-seeded Knights play at No. 3 Inderkum in the second round on Friday. “We didn’t flinch. We were very focused.”
Edison 52, Gregori 7: The Jaguars concluded their season at 5-6, losing four of their last five games a year after going unbeaten in the regular season and winning a playoff game.
Sheldon 27, Modesto 14: The Panthers, who were shut out in the first half, finished the year at 5-6.
Oakdale 54, Valley 6: The Mustangs showed little sign of impact after their loss to Central Catholic a week before as they blew past the Vikings of Sacrmento. Fifth-seeded Oakdale (8-3) travels to No. 4-seed Wood in the second round.
Patterson 48, Rosemont 21: The Tigers blew open a tight game with 20 straight points in the third quarter and running backs Jordan Imada and Obidiah Godbolt combined for more than 400 yards rushing. Imada gained 244 yards on 24 carries and scored three times while Godbolt rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries.
Imada had two 9-yard TD runs and Goldbolt a 73-yarder in the decisive third quarter that saw Patterson (7-4) move convincingly ahead 41-14. The Tigers travel to Orangevale to play Casa Roble (9-1) on Friday in the second round.
Waterford 51, Rio Vista 44: The 12th-seeded Wildcats (7-4) scored 37 points in the fourth quarter — 31 straights points in the final six minutes — to stun the No. 5 Rams (9-2).
Rio Vista went ahead 44-20 with seven minutes left before Waterford pulled off what was seemingly an impossible comeback.
Quarterback Michael Vivo had two straight touchdown passes, and the Wildcats converted two straight two-point conversions to make it 44-36 with three minutes left.
A short time later, Vivo rushed for a touchdown, and Waterford converted the two-point conversion to tie it. Then, with under a minute left, Vivo scored again to win it.
He passed for four touchdowns and three for three others.
In the second round. Waterford visits Ripon Christian, which beat the Wildcats 42-6 in Week 2.
Amador 37, Hughson 14: The Huskies, under first-year coach Shaun King, saw their season end at 5-6 following a loss to the Buffaloes. Amador scored 23 unanswered points in the second half.