Atwater High sophomore James Thomas was a step or two away from the end zone, seemingly about to give his team the lead early in the second half.
Just before Thomas crossed the goal line to complete what appeared to be a 59-yard touchdown run, Patterson’s Davante Imhoff knocked the ball out of Thomas’ hand and teammate Javier Alvarado recovered the ball in the end zone for a touch-back.
Instead of a go-ahead score on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Atwater watched as Patterson drove 80 yards to extend its lead and eventually defeat the Falcons 52-43 on Friday night at Dave Honey Stadium.
“Huge play,” said Patterson coach Rob Cozart, whose team improved to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Central California Conference. “There was a penalty that happened right in front of me so I knew the play was coming back. I didn’t seen the whole play but I caught the end of it. That’s a big play right there because it’s 28-22 at the time. Definitely a swing of momentum.”
Atwater also lost a bad snap late in the first half deep into Tigers territory with a chance to stretch its lead to eight or nine points. Instead, Patterson recovered the fumble and drove 70 yards to take a 28-22 lead into intermission.
“Big plays,” Atwater coach Seneca Ybarra said. “Big ones. That’s a great team, they’re a physical team. They lost two really tough games the last two weeks. Everything that happened to them the last two games happened to us tonight.”
Outside of the two big turnovers, it was two teams exchanging big plays in a shootout.
Patterson’s Obidiah Godbolt broke free for touchdown runs of 42 and 65 yards as he rushed for 224 yards on 25 carries. Jordan Imada added 83 yards rushing and two scores.
The Tigers came into the game knowing their season was on the line after losing to Buhach Colony and Golden Valley in back-to-back weeks.
“We know we’re going to get everyone’s best in the CCC,” Cozart said. “That’s what we talked about before the game. I got our guys in tight and just asked for them to give me their best tonight.”
Atwater had plenty of weapons to fire back on offense.
Quarterback Julius Peacock completed 8 of 15 passes for 198 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Daniel De La Rosa in the third quarter. Peacock also carried the ball 12 times for 179 yards and touchdown runs of 65 and 32 yards.
“Julius was running around tonight,” Ybarra said. “They got pressure on him all night. The athlete that he is, he willed us to a couple touchdowns.”
The Falcons (5-2 overall, 2-1 CCC) just couldn’t stop the Tigers enough on defense.
“We had some coverage issues and we couldn’t get anything on their quarterback,” Ybarra said. “He was back there dealing. I don’t think we got any pressure on him. We had some guys banged up and early. We really missed Nathan Knight tonight. I could feel it.”
Central Valley 30, Golden Valley 23 in Ceres — The Cougars had first-and-goal at the Hawks’ 3-yard line late in the game, but couldn’t score as they fell short on the road.
Avery Townsel had three touchdowns for Golden Valley (3-3, 1-1 CCC), scoring on a 68-yard running play, hauling in a 5-yard touchdown catch and later a 56-yard scoring strike from Jonathan Peredia.
The Cougars took a 23-21 lead on a 44-yard field goal by Eliud Inzunza with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
However, Central Valley recorded a safety to tie the game at 23-23 with 5:55 left in the game. Isaiah Hidalgo then returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to give the Hawks (3-4, 1-2 CCC) a 30-23 lead.
Los Banos 28, Mountain House 7 in Tracy — Tigers receiver Landon Ramos hauled in eight catches for a whopping 302 yards receiving and two touchdowns as Los Banos improves to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the Western Athletic Conference. The 302 yards receiving is a school record, according to Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso.
Justin Incaprera carried the ball 18 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers and quarterback Colby Copp completed 11 of 17 passes for 323 yards and the two touchdowns to Ramos.
Grace Davis 22, Pacheco 21 in Los Banos — The Spartans blocked a 27-yard field-goal attempt by the Panthers with just over 4 minutes left in the game and held on for the win.
Steve Verduzco, Dominic Gomez and Nic Montiel all scored touchdowns for Pacheco (2-4, 1-2 WAC).
Le Grand 56, Waterford 14 in Le Grand — Isacc Davison rushed for 111 yards and fourth touchdowns to help the Bulldogs rout the Wildcats. Aaron Martinez completed 10 of 15 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns for Le Grand (3-3, 1-2 Southern League).
Big Valley Christian 22, Stone Ridge Christian 21 in Modesto — The Lions outscored the Knights 15-0 in the fourth quarter, including a fake field goal for a two-point conversion that gave Big Valley Christian the lead with less than a minute left in the game.
Enam Davis scored all three touchdowns for Stone Ridge Christian (3-4, 0-1 Central California Athletic Alliance).
Kerman 35, Chowchilla 28 in Kerman — Gavin Layton threw four touchdowns to lead the Lions past the Tribe in the North Sequoia League opener for both teams.
Darian Lopez finished with 73 yards rushing and 77 yards receiving and scored a pair of touchdowns for Chowchilla (3-4, 0-1 NSL).
Other Area Scores:
Ripon 41, Livingston 0
Dos Palos 36, Mendota 6
Denair 35, Gustine 7