And Patterson High Tigers proved that by hogging the pigskin all night long on a truly fortuitous Friday the 13th tilt at Patterson Community Stadium.
Propelled by four touchdowns in the second quarter of the contest and buoyed by a ball-hawking defense that generated three takeaways, Patterson devoured Davis High of Modesto 49-8 Friday, Sept. 13 before a large home crowd.
“We were slow at the beginning of the game,” said Patterson coach Nick Marchy. “We tried to go a little quicker with the tempo (in the second quarter) and it showed. We were able to pick up the pace, and the kids showed that once we get on top of (an opponent), we are going to stay on top.”
Now the Tigers (3-0) at last can have only Escalon High on their mind, with the Cougars (2-1) bound for Patterson for the local team’s true 2013 unveiling Friday, Sept. 20.
The highly anticipated meeting will mark the first bona fide test of the season for the Tigers.
“That’s one of the best programs we play each year. It’s a great rivalry game for us. We know that we are going to get (Escalon’s) best,” Marchy said. “Our kids are prepared to get after it with them. We have to be ready to play our best game.”
In what amounted to a warm-up game Friday night that was so lopsided as to not seem particularly revealing, Patterson heaped on a 28-0 lead in the second period after just 12 offensive plays.
Senior Damien Paulo passed for 228 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 55 yards as the Tigers trounced the visiting Spartans (1-2).
Scoreless after one quarter, the Tigers’ romp was accelerated by a seven-play, 83-yard drive crowned by a 31-yard touchdown dart from Paulo to senior Jordan Levu for the team’s first score.
Three plays later, Patterson had the ball at the Davis 14-yard line when senior Avion Warmsley stepped in front of a pass near the far sideline, stopping the Spartans’ drive cold on second down.
Patterson immediately responded with a touchdown when Paulo connected with Warmsley on the team’s next possession for a 6-yard scoring toss, upping its advantage to 14-0.
“(In the second quarter), everybody picked up the intensity. We have a lot of athletes, and it was time to use them,” Warmsley said. “You can’t game plan for just one player (on this team). You pick your poison (on defense), and we’ve got another player ready to step up.”
After a Davis turnover on downs, the Tigers cruised 66 yards on three plays to take a 21-0 lead after Paulo connected with senior Daniel Kelepi on a 20-yard pass that set up Levu’s 40-yard scoring grab with about four minutes remaining before halftime.
Warmsley intercepted his second pass of the evening on the Spartans’ next possession, setting up the Patterson offense at the Davis 33.
With 2:16 left in the opening half, Warmsley lined up on the right side, made a quick plant-and-cut move to avoid a Davis defender, and hauled in a 28-yard Paulo toss for a four-TD halftime lead.
“We’re not a big team, but we’ve got speed,” Warmsley said. “If you (defend) one of our athletes, you’ve got another one to reckon with. We’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Receiving the ball, Patterson quickly moved deep into Davis territory on its first drive of the second half.
Levu took his third catch of the game 49 yards, but fumbled the ball near the goal line. Kelepi was Johnny-on-the-spot, however, and he recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown with 9:58 left in the third.
Davis went three-and-out on its next possession, and the Tigers crossed the goal line five plays later when junior Antonio Vazquez took a handoff and pushed the pile for a five-yard touchdown plunge to make it 42-0 in Patterson’s favor.
Senior Malik Cutrer returned an interception thrown by Davis 31 yards, and Vazquez would score from eight yards out to push the lead to 49-0.
The Spartans eventually posted points against Patterson’s reserve defensive unit, but the Tigers’ advantage was never in jeopardy.
Patterson will continue its season at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, when it hosts the Escalon Cougars.
Run the ball right, run it left, run it up the middle. Mix in a pass every now and then, coupled with some defensive takeaways, and you have the Patterson JV football team’s successful plan of attack against Davis in the Tigers’ 28-7 triumph.
It took a little while for Patterson (3-0) to get rolling — but once it did, watch out.
After taking a handoff from his quarterback early in the first quarter, a Davis ball-carrier burst through the hole, opened up for him by his blockers, and then lowered his head and shoulders as Patterson’s Caden Johnson stepped into harm’s way.
Hammer meet nail.
Johnson delivered a hit that knocked off the Spartan runners’ helmet, earning big cheers from the crowd at Patterson Community Stadium. One play later, Michael Lawson got the Tigers first scoring drive off and running, intercepting a Davis pass and returning it to the Patterson 24.
Lawson led the Tigers’ offense Friday with 161 yards rushing, including a 71-yard scoring scamper midway through the opening period when he recovered his own fumble at the Patterson 29 and — zig-zagging from sideline to sideline — ran untouched into the end zone.
Alec Espos later intercepted a Davis pass, and returned it 79 yards to paydirt, giving Patterson a 14-0 advantage with 3:01 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans’ offense looked their best on its ensuing possession, covering 53 yards on 15 plays, and scoring on a 1-yard plunge to trim the deficit to 14-7.
But as quickly as the momentum shifted in Davis’ favor, it was permanently stifled when quarterback Kevin Todd found Nicholaus Priester, who made a grab for a 17-yard TD, putting Patterson in front 21-7.
With 7:59 remaining in the fourth, Todd turned to Lawson — and found him wide open. The Tiger freshman lofted a pass over Davis’ secondary, locating Lawson with a 21-yard TD strike.
Now, the schedule gets a bit tougher.
Patterson hosts Escalon High on Friday, Sept. 20, and the tenor of the season will be set by the outcome.
“Escalon is such a big rivalry for us. This game is always where you see how good you are,” said Patterson coach Harley Parson. “We’ve got to play disciplined football and see how good we are going to be against a quality opponent.”
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.