Johnny Guzman returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and caught a 97-yard touchdown pass – right after intercepting a pass – to lead seventh-seeded Del Oro to a 23-12 win over No. 3 Central Catholic in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals Friday night in Modesto.
The win advances the Golden Eagles (8-5) to the championship game against Sierra Foothill League rival No. 1 Granite Bay on Dec. 2 at Sacramento State.
Ryan Whalley also booted a 47-yard field goal and Brice Edwards rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to help the Golden Eagles counter two touchdown runs by Dauson Booker of Central Catholic (10-2).
Del Oro returns to the section championship game for the third consecutive year and for the sixth time in the last eight years.
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The Golden Eagles under first year coach Jeff Walters hope to repeat the magic of the 2015 Del Oro squad that finished 4-6 during the regular season, barely made the playoffs, then won the CIF State Division II-AA championship.
Del Oro finished 5-5 during the regular season, including a 28-21 loss to Granite Bay in the SFL opener. Del Oro also lost to Folsom, Oak Ridge and Rocklin in league play.
But after slipping past No. 10 Lincoln 16-14 in the playoff opener, Del Oro upset No. 2 Inderkum 26-7 before beating four-time state champion Central Catholic.
St. Mary’s 38, Oak Ridge 31 in Stockton – Dusty Frampton rushed for two touchdowns, Jamar Marshall returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and the defending D-I section champion Rams (11-2) held off the Trojans (11-2) and pinch-hitting quarterback Matt Jenner to return to the section final rematch with unbeaten Folsom on Dec. 2 at Sacramento State.
Jenner replaced struggling quarterback Marco Baldacchino (two interceptions) midway through the first half, and, after the Trojans fell behind 17-0, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior threw three touchdown passes, including a 32-yarder to Justin Poerio to cut the Rams’ lead to seven points with 1:48 to play.
But St. Mary’s recovered the onside kick to assure a second consecutive section semifinal win over the Trojans, who fell 61-21 to the eventual CIF State Bowl Division I-AA finalist last year.
Jenner threw touchdown passes of 6 and 16 yards in a span of 12 seconds to Austin Jarrard late in the first half, thanks to an interception by Sam Sanders in between, that cut St. Mary’s lead to 17-14 before Poiero’s 31-yard field goal made it 17-17 with 7:29 to play in the third.
But Frampton, who scorched the Trojans for four touchdowns in last year’s semifinal, scored on a 5-yard plunge, then a one-yard punch that put the Rams ahead 31-17 with 7:46 to play.
Jenner finished with 14 touchdowns in three playoff games after in subbing for the Baldacchino, a dominating player for Oak Ridge during the regular season before suffering an injury.
It was one of six D-I through D-III semifinal games played on Friday night.
In section championship games this Saturday at Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, No. 1 Placer (11-1) will play No. 3 Center (7-5) for the D-IV title at 6 p.m. and No. 5 Colfax (9-3) will play No. 6 Bear River (9-3) at noon for the D-V championship. All four teams are members of the Pioneer Valley League.
Top-seeded Sutter (11-1) will host No. 3 Anderson (10-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Northern Section Division III championship game. Sutter is looking to win its fourth consecutive section title.
In Friday’s other games:
No. 2 Manteca 43, No. 3 Christian Brothers 38 in Manteca – Gino Campiotti rushed for five touchdowns and threw for another, and the Buffaloes (11-2) held off a valiant comeback attempt by the Falcons (10-3) to advance to next Friday’s D-III championship game against Valley Oak League rival Oakdale at Lincoln High of Stockton. Campiotti’s final touchdown, a 23-yard burst with 2:39 remaining, put the Buffaloes ahead 43-31.
But Jaiden Green took Gunnor Faulk’s screen pass and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown with 1:17 to play, then Spencer Webb recovered the onside kick. But Faulk’s pass was intercepted with 55 seconds left as Manteca snapped the Falcons’ 10-game winning streak in beating the Falcons for the second time this season. Manteca prevailed 36-35 in the season opener.
Faulk finished with three touchdown passes, giving him 48 for the season, and he also rushed for a score. Green also had a 15-yard rushing touchdown.
No. 1 Oakdale 63, No. 4 Patterson 27 in Oakdale – Josh Jacobson rushed for touchdowns of 79, 73, 35, 27 and 8 yards and Cameron Cherry added touchdown runs of 64 and 50 yards as the defending Sac-Joaquin Section and CIF state champion Mustangs (12-1) advanced to the championship game against Manteca. Patterson (11-2) closed to 35-27 with 9:36 to play in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Gabe Sanchez to James Perez, but the Mustangs’ vaunted wing-T ran off four consecutive touchdowns to close it out.
No. 1 East Nicolaus 30, No. 2 Durham 12 in Trowbridge – Gavin McAuliffe completed 9 of 15 passes for 119 yards and touchdowns of 54 and 12 yards to Cole McCray; Mauricio Bautista and Corey Taylor combined for 190 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries; and the Spartans (13-0) picked off three passes by the Trojans (11-2) to win their third consecutive D-IV championship on Wednesday night.