LOS BANOS -- Check one more box off of Dennis Stubbs' season to-do list.
Four weeks after leading Los Banos to a Westside War victory, Stubbs got his first win against his former team.
More importantly, Los Banos kept itself right in the thick of the Central California Conference playoff hunt -- which became all the more interesting with Turlock's 7-0 win over Pitman.
Stubbs' only complaint about Friday's 27-13 victory at Loftin Stadium was that it proved a little more difficult than he'd hoped.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
"I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get this monkey off of my back," Stubbs said.
"We'd been trying to tell the kids all week that just because GV had struggled against other teams, that didn't mean they were going to struggle against us.
"You have to give Golden Valley a lot of credit for a great performance."
Perhaps inspired by playing their former coach, GV (0-3 CCC, 0-7 overall) easily turned in its most impressive showing of the season.
With the GV defense keeping Los Banos' high-powered offense off balance, Rey Rivas tied the game at 13-13 on a 5-yard run with 9:42 left in the game.
Los Banos quarterback Erik Martin struggled after tweaking his knee early in the first quarter, but responded when his team needed it.
Martin and the Los Banos offense answered GV's score with touchdown passes on its next two drives.
From the GV 49-yard line, Martin orchestrated a five-play scoring drive -- capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rubal Sangha -- to put LB (2-1, 4-3) back in the lead for good.
"I'd never had anything like that happen to my knee and it scared me a lot," Martin said. "I'll admit, I babied it a little a bit.
"We were off tonight, but we still found a way to win and that's what you have to do.
"We control our own destiny, and hopefully we got this game out of our system."
GV's final chance was a little anticlimactic.
Down seven points with just over six minutes to play, coach Jon Betschart was faced with a tough call on a fourth-and-1 at GV's own 32-yard-line.
"It was the best game our defense had played all season," Betschart said. "I figured we punt the ball, get a stop, and try to win the game.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards."
Martin hit Max Ornales with a 47-yard touchdown pass just three plays later to put the game out of reach.
"I thought (Martin) was going to take off and run, and then at the last minute he waved me down field," Ornales said. "He got hit as he threw it, and it just kind of hung up there.
"Fortunately, I was able to beat the two defenders and come down with it."