The Los Banos High defense had a tough time getting Rio Linda’s Wing-T offense off the field.
Cameron Skattebo and Eric Williams kept twisting and turning as the two Knights running backs combined for 216 rushing yards to help move the chains and run the clock.
Rio Linda jumped out to an early lead and played keep-away from Los Banos’ high-powered offense as the No. 11 seed Knights (7-4) held on for a 16-14 win over No. 6 Los Banos (9-2) in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at Loftin Stadium on Friday night.
“We scored on our first possession and then they had the ball for 12 minutes,” said Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso. “We had a hard time getting going. They did a good job of disguising some stuff. We turned the ball over twice and they scored on one of them. It’s tough when you fall behind them because they do a good job of controlling the clock.”
Rio Linda ran 57 plays to just 39 for Los Banos.
The Tigers made it look early on their first drive of the game as they covered 51 yards in six plays as Antonio Lopez scored on a 15-yard run to give LB a 7-0 lead with 9:19 left in the first quarter.
It was the only time Los Banos touched the ball in the first quarter.
Rio Linda answered with a 17-play drive as the Knights held the ball for 10 minutes and 2 seconds, converting three times on fourth down. Keshawn Brown capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch from Tyson Ybarra to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:10 left in the first half.
The Tigers struggled to get the ball to their playmakers outside. Their top two receivers Daniel Guerrero and Paulie Calderon, who had combined for 74 receptions for 1,669 yards, were held without a catch.
Los Banos quarterback Anthony Caballero completed just 5 of 13 passes for 77 yards, with all five completions going to Andre Castillo.
“They brought backers all night,” Castillo said. “They helped over the top of Speedy (Guerrero). They covered up Landon (Ramos). We couldn’t get the ball to them.”
Caballero did try to connect on a deep pass to Guerrero in the second quarter but Rio Linda’s Abraham Banks came away with an interception deep in Knights’ territory.
The Rio Linda offense then exploded as Ybarra hooked up with John Tuers for a 51-yard pass and then Skattebo (139 rushing yards) broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Knights a 13-7 lead with 9:03 left in the first half.
A goal-line stand by the Los Banos defense late in the first half kept Rio Linda from taking a bigger lead into intermission.
The Tigers tried to rally late in the second half as Los Banos drove 63 yards to cut the Knightsl lead to 16-14 with 5:45 left in the game. Jose Castro capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
The Tigers defense then forced Rio Linda to turn the ball over on downs at the Los Banos 41-yard line with 2:43 left.
However, the Tigers couldn’t get a game-winning drive going as they went four-and-out.
“We worked on everything they ran. We just couldn’t execute what we were doing,” Caballero said. “We just had a lot of mental mistakes.”
Rio Linda was able to run out the clock and punch its ticket to a quarterfinal matchup with No. 3 seed Christian Brothers next week. Christain Brothers routed Benicia 59-0.
“It’s hard,” Caballero said. “A lot of us have been playing football together since we were 5 or 6 years old. For a lot of us, this was our last time playing on this field. I’m extremely proud of our season. You couldn’t ask to play with a better group of guys or coaches.”
Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs
Division III/First Round
Rio Linda 16, Los Banos 14
LB – Antonio Lopez 15 run (Chase Ferreira kick)
RL – Keshawn Brown 6 pass from Tyson Ybarra (John Tuers kick)
RL – Cameron Skattebo 40 run (kick failed)
RL – Tuers 29 FG
LB – Jose Castro 2 run (Ferreira kick)
Records: Rio Linda 7-4; Los Banos 9-2.