Ceres High School’s football team suffered its first loss of the 2022 season on Friday.
The shorthanded Lathrop Spartans upset the Bulldogs 19-16 during the opening week of Western Athletic Conference play at CUSD Stadium.
Backup quarterback Kameron Jones and receiver Jeremiah Green combined for the winning touchdown. Jones tossed a 9-yard pass to Green in the right corner of the end zone with 29 seconds remaining in the game.
“Losing in any fashion is horrible,” Ceres High head coach Brett Johnson said. “We put ourselves in a position to win the game. We didn’t do what we needed to, to get the job done. We lost some focus.”
The Bulldogs dropped to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in the WAC.
The Spartans improved to 2-2 and 1-0.
“It’s definitely not where we want to be right now,” Johnson said. “We should be 4-0. We can take what happened and use it as motivation to get back on track. We want to get better every day. That’s the expectation.”
Ceres High had 280 yards of total offense, including just 59 rushing on 20 carries, in defeat.
Landyn Hudson was 8 for 20 for 221 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He gained a team-high 30 yards on four carries.
Lebron Stallworth finished with three catches for 79 yards and one touchdown.
Ricky Stanley totaled 95 yards on three receptions.
Tarrell Lee-Gill added 47 yards on two catches. He was limited to 24 yards on 13 carries.
Nick Vieyra kicked a 35-yard field goal and converted his lone extra-point attempt.
Kahmi Smith starred on defense with seven tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one touchdown.
Daniel Baker had nine tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage.
Faiva Taukalau also collected nine tackles.
“Defensively, I thought we played lights out 99 percent of the game."Coach Brett Johnson
“Defensively, I thought we played lights out 99 percent of the game,” Johnson said.
Lathrop outscored Ceres High 7-0 in the opening half.
Hudson’s 65-yard TD pass to Stallworth and Vieyra’s point-after kick cut the deficit to 12-7 in the third quarter.
Vieyra booted a 35-yard field goal to make it a 12-10 game and Smith recovered and returned Jones’ fumble 13 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 16-12 lead.
Ahead by four points with 3 minutes to play, Ceres High had a chance to secure the victory.
Lathrop completed a 65-yard pass on third-and-24 prior to scoring the go-ahead touchdown on its final possession.
“Credit to their team,” Johnson said. “They were very consistent throughout the night. We made too many mistakes. We had a lot of penalties. We didn’t deserve to win the game.”
Squandered scoring chances proved costly.
The Bulldogs fumbled the ball going into the end zone in the first half.
Ceres High dropped a pass going into and in the end zone during the second half.
“We had some opportunities and came away empty,” Johnson said. “We had some focus and finishing issues.”
With its starting quarterback and a top lineman out with ankle injuries, Lathrop still managed to stun previously-unbeaten Ceres High.
Jones, who normally plays tailback or wingback, is splitting time at quarterback with Teagan Shevlin after Jerico Santillan suffered ligament damage in an ankle two weeks ago at Weston Ranch. The Spartans were also without guard Hector Meza, who sprained both ankles.
Jones finished with 83 yards on 26 rushes while completing two of three passes for 17 yards. Shevlin was 3-of-6 for 79 yards.
Roman Giordano (11 rushes, 45 yards) scored the first two touchdowns of the game on 12- and 1-yard scampers. Green rushed for 37 yards and had 96 receiving on 11 total touches.
“There were some concerns going into the game,” said Johnson, whose team resumed its season following a bye week. “You can’t expect to win Friday if you don’t win on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There were some issues at practice.”
Ceres High will travel to Modesto this Friday to face winless Beyer (0-4, 0-1).
The game will be staged at Johansen High School.
Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
Manteca Bulletin reporter Jonamar Jacinto contributed to this report.