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Hawks nearly knock off Timberwolves
Gerardo Solorzano scored on a 1-yard run as Central Valley built a seven-point lead in the first half against host Sierra. The Timberwolves rallied for a 28-26 victory. - photo by Photo courtesy of

Central Valley High School's varsity football team had its upset bid derailed by Sierra in the closing minutes of last week's non-conference showdown.

Mark Vicente's 39-yard touchdown strike to Jesse Babauta with 1:52 to play proved to be the difference in the game as the 2015 CIF Division IV-A State Bowl champion Timberwolves rallied past the Hawks 28-26 Friday night in Manteca.

"I felt like we had the game won," Central Valley senior running back/strong safety Jonathan Barragan said. "There was three minutes left. We were up. We were making great stops all night. I had confidence in my defense. But we weren't able to stop them. I'll take the blame on that pass. I was on him (Babauta). The quarterback made a good play. He led his receiver into the end zone."

The Hawks dropped to 1-1 on the year.

Sierra improved to 2-0 overall.

"We'll take the loss as a lesson and move forward," Barragan said. "It's going to make us want to play harder. We're going to use it as motivation."
Barragan carried the ball 11 times for 79 yards and one touchdown.

Central Valley running backs Gabe Campos and Gerardo Solorzano both scored once on the ground.

"I'm just trying to do good things for my team," Barragan said. "The yards and touchdowns are a bonus."

Vicente completed 16 of 25 passes for 272 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

Daemon Duran caught six passes for 98 yards and two TDs.

Marcus Castillo ran for 32 yards on 16 carries and had a 68-yard touchdown reception.

The Hawks appeared headed to victory before the Timberwolves mounted their comeback.

Kicker Angel Lopez split the uprights, giving Central Valley a 24-22 lead with 10:36 left in regulation.

The Hawks increased their lead to 26-22 at the 1:52 mark of the fourth quarter when Vicente was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone.

Sierra proceeded to recover the subsequent onside kick, setting up the wild finish.

"We had our hands team out there," Barragan said. "We just failed to recover the ball."

Central Valley's final possession ended with a turnover as Sierra's Seuseu Alofaituli intercepted a halfback pass.

"At that point, I was thinking we still had a chance to win the game," Barragan said. "But we had too many penalties that pushed us back. When it came down to crunch time, we couldn't execute."

Central Valley also had to deal with an unexpected situation in the final minutes.

The sprinklers turned on at Daniel Teicheira Stadium.

"We were confused," Barragan said. "That's for sure. The referees delayed the game. It gave us more time to figure out what we were going to do."

Central Valley outplayed Sierra during the first half.

Barragan accounted for the Hawks' first touchdown when he scored on a 25-yard run in the opening period.

Campos had a 10-yard rushing TD and Solorzano barreled his way into the end zone from the 1-yard line in the second quarter.

In position to extend their lead to 14 points, Central Valley fumbled inside Sierra's 5-yard line.

"We had three opportunities to cross the goal line at the end of the first half and couldn't stick it in there," Barragan said. "We're pretty heartbroken. We should have a 2-0 record. But we shouldn't hang our heads. We were the underdogs. We made a statement (in defeat). It was a long, hard-fought battle. It felt like we had the momentum for most of the game. We know we should have won. We'll be hungrier for the next win."

The Hawk will face former Central Valley founding head coach Tim Garcia Jr. and Grace Davis (2-0) this Friday at Ceres High.

Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

"Regardless of who's coaching, we just want to win," Barragan said. "We'll treat it like any other game. We'll play our hearts out."

Manteca Bulletin Sports Reporter Dave Campbell contributed to this report.