In a halftime meeting with quarterback Elijah Diaz, Davis coach Tim Garcia said he wasn’t happy with a decision the senior had made just moments before.
Davis had the ball on Beyer’s 20-yard line with the game tied at 14 and was looking for the leading score, but Diaz threw an interception with 20 seconds left before intermission.
“He was in my ear about making the right reads,” Diaz said.
The message stuck in the second half as the Spartans (4-1, 7-1) beat the Patriots (4-1, 4-4) 35-14 on Thursday night to force a tie atop the Western Athletic Conference.
Beyer is at Lathrop next week while Davis is at Johansen.
“In the second half, they were worried about his passing and we hit them with big runs,” Garcia said.
In addition to completing 17 of 24 passes for 200 yards and three TDs, Diaz rushed for 100 yards and a TD on 20 carries.
On Senior Night, Diaz relied on fellow senior wide receivers Michael Sherrod Jr. and Gregory Smith.
Smith had a 5-yard touchdown reception with 2 minutes, 38 seconds left in the third quarter while Sherrod Jr. caught a 12-yard touchdown early in the fourth. Diaz had a 2-yard TD run later in the fourth for the other touchdown.
“Tonight was nerve-wracking,” Diaz said.
For the Patriots, they struggled to contain momentum as the offense turned the ball over five times, including on their opening possession of the second half.
Beyer had run six plays (all runs) and were on Davis’ 24-yard line but the Patriots fumbled on a trick play, giving Davis the ball.
Davis also allowed only 5 passing yards and Sherrod Jr. and Smith both had interceptions.
“Our defense has been the difference all year,” Garcia said. “They are physical. We liked our matchups tonight.”
Davis scored first on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Diaz to Smith with 6:07 left in the first quarter and the score remained the same until Patriots senior running back Sean Perkins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:11 left in the second.
On the ensuing kickoff, Davis senior wide receiver Kyle Joyce took it back 82 yards for a score and Perkins countered with a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown with 1:15 remaining before halftime.
With the win, the Spartans remained in contention for a league title and a playoff berth, both of which they haven’t done in a long time.
Davis’ last playoff appearance was in 2009. The Spartans’ last league title was in 2005 when they won the Modesto Metro Conference.
“When I took the job in 2012, we were far from consideration,” Garcia. “They are showing they belong.”