CERES — After his Central Valley High team put a 35-7 beating on Los Banos, coach Jason McCloskey turned his game ball presentation to Ja'Quan Gardner into a brief emotional ceremony.
When the ball was handed over, the Central Valley High senior didn't as much as look as it before flipping it blindly over his right shoulder and into the arms of a waiting offensive linemen.
Right where it belonged.
"That's it," Gardner said. "It belongs to them and they can keep it."
Most of the talk and speculation about whether Gardner could set a Stanislaus District career rushing record seemed to overlook what really drives the talented running back.
Yes, he was pleased that his 181 rushing yards gave him the mark a three-year total of 5,291 to surpass the 5,140 posted by Central Catholic's Louis Bland from 2005-07.
But the people around him seemed even more amazed at the numbers, as a parade of students, parents, teammates and other well-wishers lined up to pat the blond-Mohawked player on the shoulders.
On the other hand, Gardner's personal satisfaction wasn't anthing close to the overwhelming joy he was feeling from being on a team that had just posted the most important victory and arguably the program's best performance since CV first fielded a varsity team in 2006.
"Nah, it didn't matter I wasn't thinking about any record, I was thinking about getting the win," Gardner said.
The outcome put the Hawks and Tigers in the same boat. Both are 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Turlock 49, Buhach Colony 31
ATWATER The Thunder didn't have an answer for Sean Downs. The Turlock quarterback accounted for five touchdowns and ran for 252 yards as the Bulldogs (5-4, 1-3 Central California Conference) shocked Buhach Colony.
The loss is a severe blow to the Thunder's playoff hopes. Downs threw for three touchdowns and added touchdown runs of 50 and 57 yards in the second half. Darin Dupont threw a pair of touchdowns for Buhach Colony (4-5, 2-2).
Pitman 42, Golden Valley 13
TURLOCK The Pride jumped out to a 35-0 lead by half and coasted to a win over the Cougars to improve to 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the CCC. Golden Valley dropped to 3-6 and 1-3 in the CCC.
Sun-Star staff contributed to this report.