Ceres High School’s football team had no margin for error heading into last week’s key Western Athletic Conference matchup at Los Banos.
Needing a win to remain in the hunt for the WAC title and possible home playoff game, the Bulldogs sustained a heartbreaking 29-28 loss in overtime while battling the Tigers on Friday at Loftin Stadium.
“We can’t worry about what we don’t have,” Ceres High Coach Brett Johnson said. “We have to focus on what we want. Right now, our goal is to beat Mountain House and become 7-2 on Friday.”
Ceres High (6-2, 3-2) dropped from second to fourth in the league standings.
Los Banos (6-2, 5-0) remained in first place.
Winners of their last five contests, the Tigers snapped the Bulldogs’ three-game unbeaten streak.
“It sucks,” Ceres High quarterback Landyn Hudson said. “Obviously, we wanted to beat them and win league. We can’t hang our heads. We have to turn the page and get ready for next week. We’re not going to underestimate anybody.”
Each team scored in overtime.
Bulldog tailback Tarrell Lee-Gill’s short touchdown run and Nicholas Vieyra’s point-after kick gave Ceres High a 28-21.
Los Banos quarterback David Herrera responded with a rushing TD of his own and secured the victory as he raced into the end zone for a 2-point conversion on a read-option play.
“It’s not a great feeling when you’re watching it play out. We knew what was coming and they just executed better than we did.”Ceres High Coach Brett Johnson
“It’s not a great feeling when you’re watching it play out,” Johnson said. “We knew what was coming and they just executed better than we did.”
Down 21-13 late in the fourth quarter, Ceres High forced overtime when Lee-Gill scored on an 8-yard run and added the 2-point conversion.
“We fought all night,” Hudson said. “We didn’t give up. We played a helluva game.”
The Bulldogs had a chance to extend their lead to 20-7 in the third quarter but Lee-Gill lost a fumble at the Tigers’ 1-yard line.
Two plays later, Los Banos’ Mark Carreiro broke loose for a 97-yard TD run.
“The momentum shifted to their side,” said Hudson, whose team trailed 14-13 at that point of the game.
“We were a consistent, disciplined team 80 percent of the game,” Johnson stated. “We just had a few lapses.”
“We did so many good things and still lost,” Lee-Gill added.
Los Banos’ defense had trouble slowing down Lee-Gill all game.
He rushed for 207 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 34 carries.
“Tarrell had an incredible night,” Johnson said.
Hudson threw for 60 yards and one touchdown while completing 5 of 12 passes.
He gained 34 yards and scored one TD on 13 carries.
Lebron Stallworth had an 8-yard touchdown catch.
Ricky Stanley totaled 52 yards on four receptions.
Stallworth had five tackles, one sack and two quarterback hurries on defense.
Daniel Baker chipped in with five tackles and one fumble recovery.
Ernesto Miranda had three tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Jeremiah Diaz had three tackles and one sack.
Donovan Osuna had three tackles and one interception.
Josh Prestridge, Reis Smith and Kahmi Smith had nine, seven and five tackles, respectively.
Ceres High will play host to sixth-place Mountain House (5-3, 2-3) this Friday.
Kickoff slated for 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are vying for their second straight postseason berth.
Ceres High made its first playoff appearance since 2004 last fall, ending a 16-year drought.
“We just got to lock in as a team,” Lee-Gill said.
“I’m really proud of the kids and how they’ve developed the last four years,” Johnson said. “They’ve been a fun group to coach.”