Quarterback Chris Lubinsky, tight end Conner Johnson and their Ceres High varsity football teammates never lost confidence even after falling behind late in the fourth quarter against Johansen.
Lubinsky's 16-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with just over a minute to play gave the Bulldogs a 33-28 victory over the Vikings in non-conference play Friday night at Dan Gonsalves Stadium.
"We expected to score and win," Chris said.
Winless no more, Ceres High improves to 1-3 on the year.
Johansen dropped to 0-4 overall.
The Bulldogs and Vikings haven't had winning seasons since 2004 and 2008, respectively.
"They're in the same boat as we are as far as trying to establish their football program," Ceres High head coach Bret Durossette said.
Added Lubinsky: "We all understand where we've been in the past and where we're trying to get to. When things go wrong, it's not the end of the world. We can bounce back."
Lubinsky tossed for 287 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in leading Ceres High past Johansen.
Johnson grabbed four passes for 66 yards and one TD.
Marcellus Boykins finished with 143 yards and one score on eight receptions.
Boykins' lone carry resulted in a 20-yard gain.
Junior Andrew Gibson gained 65 yards and scored one touchdown and hauled in three passes for 29 yards and one TD.
Wyatt Ogden rushed for 22 yards and one TD on eight attempts. He also caught four passes for 24 yards.
Austin Crain totaled 25 yards on three catches.
Zyier Harrison added 14 yards on two carries.
Johnson racked up 15 tackles at linebacker.
Ogden tallied five tackles and one interception.
Harrison and Alberto Carranza both collected nine tackles.
Isaac Santana chipped in with seven tackles and one sack.
Adrian Knights had six tackles.
"It was a great team win," Lubinsky said.
Slowed by a knee injury, Gibson wasn't on the field during Ceres High's go-ahead drive which covered 65 yards.
Down 28-27 with 1:05 to play, Lubinsky lofted a perfect pass to Johnson in the middle of the end zone.
"When Wyatt motioned, that drew the safety away from me," Johnson said. "I pretended to block for a second and ran past another defender. It was the perfect play for the perfect time."
"He beat his guy and I gave him a chance to catch the ball," Lubinsky said. "That's just one of the many plays he made for us in the game."
Johnson had a reduced role against East Union during Week 2.
Conner was slowed by a right ankle injury.
"It was pretty painful leading up to that game," said Johnson, who just long snapped against the Lancers. "I couldn't walk on it. I was worried. I'm feeling a lot better now."
Johansen's potential game-winning possession ended with a turnover.
Ogden intercepted a pass to secure the victory.
"It's awesome the kids got a win under their belts," Durossette said. "They rose to the occasion."
"We faced adversity and got the job done," Lubinsky said. "We showed a lot of resiliency."
Ceres High spoiled Johansen's homecoming.
"They turned out to be a way better team than we anticipated," Johnson said.
Added Lubinsky: "They played with a lot of heart."
Ceres High will play host to Atwater (0-4) this Friday at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs will try to put on a show for their homecoming crowd.
"We know what it feels like to win," Lubinsky said. "We'll use it as momentum going into our next game. We just got to execute. We got to be sharp in all three aspects of the game-offense, defense and special teams."