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.
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.