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Bulldogs boost playoff hopes with 35-33 win over Mountain House
Daniel Baker
Senior linebacker Daniel Baker (55) intercepted two passes during the Ceres High football team’s 35-33 win over Mountain House in Western Athletic Conference play on Friday at CUSD Stadium. - photo by Dale Butler

In desperate need of a victory to keep its Sac-Joaquin Section playoff hopes alive, Ceres High School’s football team escaped with a 35-33 victory over upset-minded Mountain House Friday night at CUSD Stadium.

The Bulldogs erased deficits of 14-0, 20-14 and 26-14 while edging out the Mustangs.

“It was a battle,” Ceres High linebacker/offensive lineman Daniel Baker said. “I was stressing. We kept fighting. We never gave up. That’s what brought us back.”

The Bulldogs improved to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference standings.

The Mustangs dropped to 5-4 and 2-4.

Baker had two key interceptions during the WAC game.

Baker’s second pick set up Ceres High’s second-to-last score as Tarrell Lee-Gill’s 23-yard TD scamper and Nicholas Vieyra’s point-after kick gave the Bulldogs a 28-26 lead with 19 seconds to play in the third quarter.

“I was at the right place at the right times,” Baker said. 

“As far as being counted upon, that’s my job,” he added.

Baker was also named Homecoming King earlier in the day.

“I was not expecting that,” he said.

Ceres High had 298 yards of total offense versus Mountain House.

Lee-Gill ran for 111 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries.

He caught two passes for 64 yards and one TD.

Ernesto Miranda scored two rushing touchdowns.

Landyn Hudson threw for 172 yards with two TDs and no interceptions.

Manny Mendoza had an 87-yard touchdown reception.

The Bulldogs prevailed after battling the Mustangs for four quarters.

Down 26-14 with 7:12 to play in the third period, Ceres High outscored Mountain House 21-7 the rest of the game.

Miranda scored on a 1-yard run and Lee-Gill added a 23-yard rushing TD.

Ahead by just two points, Mendoza snagged a contested pass from Hudson and raced 87 yards for a touchdown. Mendoza’s score and Vieyra’s PAT extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-26 at the 8:34 mark of the fourth quarter.

The Mustangs didn’t go down without a fight.

Mountain House cut the deficit to 35-33 with 5:12 to play.

The Bulldogs responded with a 31-yard, game-sealing drive that ended at the Mustangs’ 42-yard line.

Mountain House’s defensive unit watched helplessly as Hudson took back-to-back knees to secure the victory.

“Every week is must-win,” Baker said. “I know what our team’s capable of. We settled down and got back to our game plan.”

Ceres High inched closer to securing its second straight playoff berth.

The Bulldogs made their first postseason appearance since 2004 last season, ending a 16-year drought.

“It’s been a long time coming but we’re here now,” Baker said while talking about the success Ceres High’s football program has enjoyed the past two seasons. “Our hard work has paid off. We put a huge emphasis on the weight room and film room.”