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Modesto dashes Ceres' title hopes
The top-seeded Ceres Seahawks fell just short in their quest for a Super Bowl berth on Saturday at Ceres High School, losing 22-12 to the No. 2 Modesto Broncos in the Cen-Cal NFC divisional championship game.

"They were the better team tonight," Ceres head coach Joe Borba said. "They deserved this win. We definitely had our chances. We just couldn't capitalize."

Added Seahawks standout player Bryson Waring: "There's only one Super Bowl all year so it's pretty disappointing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Ceres dropped to 10-5 on the year and will play against the Merced Cougars (12-2) in the Friendship Bowl this Saturday at Turlock High School.

Modesto, which avenged its third loss of the season by defeating Ceres, improved to 11-3 on the year and will battle the Turlock Vikings (13-1) for the Super Bowl crown.

The Seahawks posted an 8-6 victory over the Broncos during the first meeting.

"We could have played more as a team this time," Waring said.

Ceres accomplished a lot in its first year of existence.

"I'm not going to walk away from this season upset," Borba said. "I'm proud of the kids. They went far and beyond what I expected them to do. I didn't expect to be playing for a Super Bowl berth."

"No one expected us to do this," Waring said. "We were the underdogs all year. We proved a lot of people wrong."

Ceres mustered just 177 total yards of offense in the NFC title game, including 166 rushing on 36 attempts.

Waring ran for a game-high 103 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries. He completed 3 of 12 passes for 11 yards with one interception.

Sterling Shaw gained 50 yards on eight carries.

Nick Welsh carried the ball seven times for 13 yards and a score. He also intercepted a pass on defense.

"After the first quarter, I was huffing and puffing," Waring said. "I'm the team workhorse. Everyone depends on me."

Modesto generated 232 yards of offense, including 127 passing on five receptions.

Quarterback Ryan Taylor completed 4 of 10 passes for 83 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

Justin Kennedy tossed a 44-yard option TD pass to Kevin Bautista.

Austin Eckard rushed for 20 yards and one score on six attempts.

The Seahawks trailed 8-0 at intermission. Ceres had five possessions sputter in Modesto territory.

The Broncos tallied their first touchdown on a halfback option pass with 9:14 remaining in the second quarter. Bautista made the point-after kick.

Bautista returned the opening kickoff of the second half 67 yards to the Seahawks' 15. Eckard scored four plays later on a 4-yard run and Kevin booted the PAT to make it a 16-0 game.

Welsh's 1-yard plunge cut the deficit to 10 with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Modesto's Deshawn Craig turned what appeared to be a short gain on a screen pass from Taylor into a 62-yard score one minute and 40 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Down 22-6, Waring engineered an eight-play, 63-yard scoring drive on the Seahawks' final possession to close the gap to 10. His fifth carry resulted in an 8-yard TD at the 2:04 mark.