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Stockton posts 18-6 win over Ceres
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The Ceres Cowboys varsity football team overcame a shaky start and almost beat the Stockton Bengals at Ceres High School on Sunday.

The visitors escaped with an 18-6 victory.

"In the second half, we started to move the ball and things were clicking," said Ceres coach Tom Vasquez. "I thought we were going to win."

Ceres' offense got better as the game went on.

Brendon Verdugo caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Viado to cut Stockton's lead to 12-6 early in the third quarter.

Bradley Hamstengel recovered the ensuing kickoff, and the Bulldogs proceeded to march down to the Stockton 20.

Ceres' offense stalled thanks to two dropped passes, including one, which should have been hauled in for a game-tying touchdown.

Stockton returned an interception 35 yards for a score with 36 seconds left in regulation.

"We had our chances," Vasquez said. "We just didn't capitalize on them."

Ceres trailed 12-0 at intermission.

The Bengals outgained the Bulldogs 99-42.

Ceres gained a total of nine yards on its first three possessions.

"We only had two first downs in the first half," Vasquez said.

Stockton opened the game with a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, which lasted 5 minutes, 43 seconds. Ryan Donarie scored from 1-yard out on a quarterback sneak with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter.

Patrick Fletcher returned a punt 40 yards for a score with 2:17 remaining in the second quarter.

Ceres' defense was dominant.

The Cowboys stopped the Bengals twice deep in their own territory in the first half. Stockton turned the ball over on downs at the Cowboy 8 and Ceres defensive back Thomas Vasquez intercepted a pass in the end zone.

"There's a lot of positives that came out of the game," Vasquez said.

"They responded in the second half. They played tough."

Ceres will play the Tracy Cougars at West High School on Sunday at 3 p.m.

"We will win next week," Vasquez said. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier