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Central Valley challenges Los Banos for a half
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Central Valley High School's varsity football team hung tough with Los Banos during the opening 24 minutes of Friday's Western Athletic Conference contest.

The visiting Hawks struggled to keep pace with the Tigers in the second half and suffered a 29-0 loss.

"That's the best team we've faced all year," Hawks head coach Jason McCloskey said. "They're a step above us."

Central Valley (4-4, 1-3) has dropped three straight since winning four of its first five games.

The Hawks have been outscored 80-40 during their winless streak.

Central Valley committed two turnovers and was penalized eight times for 50 yards against Los Banos (7-1, 3-1).

"We could have executed better," McCloskey said.

Central Valley tailback Ja'Quan Gardner rumbled for 138 yards on 24 carries.

Hawk quarterback Abraham Navarro completed just 5 of 17 passes for 63 yards with one interception.

Raul Godinez tallied a team-high seven tackles on defense.

Central Valley trailed 7-0 at halftime.

The Hawks had several drives stall in Los Banos territory.

Central Valley turned the ball over on downs at the Tigers' 25-yard line in the first quarter. Navarro failed to connect with a wide-open Milton Uti in the end zone.

Abraham was sacked inside Los Banos' 40-yard line in the waning seconds of the opening half.

"We should have scored a couple times," McCloskey said.

Los Banos elevated its level of play and pulled away in the second half.

Central Valley allowed 22 points, including 14 in the third period.

"We made a couple mistakes defensively and broke down," McCloskey said. "The effort was there. As a coaching staff, we got to raise their football IQ."

A month ago, Central Valley won its fourth game and appeared headed for the playoffs. The Hawks now face a tough road. Central Valley needs to win its final two games to secure its first-ever postseason berth.

"I'm not even thinking about that," McCloskey said. "We're worried about getting better as a football team. We're good. But we're not great yet. We're just a work in progress."

Central Valley will play at first-place Central Catholic Friday night at 7.