Downey’s Robert Rivera
Senior Robert Rivera is listed at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds on the Downey roster. However, Knights coach Jeremy Plaa admits Rivera is probably 140 pounds soaking wet.
Rivera proved one thing on Friday night: He can bounce back from a hit.
Rivera caught a swing pass in the third quarter and never saw Merced cornerback Alfonso Gary coming as he crashed into Rivera with a violent hit that sent the Knights star running back to the turf.
“It felt like I hit a brick wall,” Rivera said. “I got the wind knocked out of me.”
Rivera caught his breath just in time, breaking free for two long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, springing free for 70 and 54 yards, to help Downey (3-0) come from behind to defeat Merced 34-27 on Friday night at Veterans Stadium.
“That guy is one of our best players,” Plaa said. “We rely on him. Unfortunately, the first thing you immediately think about is concussion when you see a hit like that. You’re almost relieved when you know he just got the wind knocked out of him.”
Merced (1-2) showed improvement after turning the ball over nine times in its first two games this season.
The Bears controlled the ball and took a 21-12 lead into the half as sophomore Seth Scheidt threw a touchdown and ran one in on his own.
Merced leaned on senior running back Desmond Thompson heavily as he finished with 27 carries for 117 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears ran 38 plays in the first half to just 13 by the Knights.
“The first thing is we just had one turnover tonight and for us that’s huge,” said Merced coach Rob Scheidt. “It still came at an inopportune time because we had a great drive going. But we were able to eliminate the turnovers and control the football.”
While the Bears defense sacked Downey quarterback Bryce Gouker four times, the Knights were able to hurt Merced with the big play.
Gouker connected on three long touchdown passes. He found Joseph Easterwood on a 38-yard touchdown on Downey’s second offensive play of the game.
Gouker hooked up with Lawrence Harris for touchdown passes of 66 and 71 yards. Gouker completed 9 of 11 passes for 212 yards. Harris caught three balls for 139 yards.
It was Rivera who delivered the big plays late as he finished with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
“They were stopping me in the first half and most of the third quarter,” Rivera said. “It felt great to get those runs to help my team get the win.”
Buhach Colony 35, Edison 27 in Atwater — The Thunder rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to knock off the Vikings and super sophomore Raleek Brown.
Nate Ruiz scored three touchdowns, including touchdowns including the tying and go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Buhach Colony (3-0).
Brown scored three touchdowns in the first half for Edison (2-1), which came into the game ranked No. 15 in the Sac-Joaquin Section by MaxPreps. Brown’s touchdowns included an 80-yard reception and a 41-yard run on a fake punt.
The Thunder rallied to tie the game at 13-13, but fell behind 27-13 in the third quarter.
Oscar Smallwood pulled BC within 27-21 with a 15-yard touchdown run with 11:50 left in the game. After BC recovered an onside kick, Ruiz tied the game with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Ruiz’s third touchdown was a 10-yard run that gave the Thunder a 35-27 lead with 3:15 left.
Centennial 35, Golden Valley 21 in Bakersfield — The Cougars (1-2) battled but their comeback effort fell short. Jabari Phillips broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run to pull GV within 28-21 with 6 seconds left in the third quarter.
Centennial converted on a crucial fourth-down play at midfield and put the game away with a 45-yard touchdown pass.
Avery Townsel returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and added a 20-yard touchdown catch in the second half for Golden Valley.
Lincoln 43, Atwater 0 in Lincoln — The Fighting Zebras racked up 488 yards of total offense as they handed the Falcons (2-1) their first loss of the season in dominant fashion. Seth Sampson had three catches for 107 yards to go along with 91 rushing yards on 17 carries for Lincoln (2-1).
Grace Davis 43, El Capitan 8 in Modesto — Spartans quarterback Elijah Diaz threw for four touchdowns and added a fifth score on the ground as Grace Davis improved to 3-0.
The Gauchos dropped to 0-3 this season.
Hilmar 42, Gustine 0 in Gustine — Aidan Azevedo caught three passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns as the Yellowjackets improved to 3-0. Steve Silva added 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 10 carries for Hilmar. Cole Bailey also rushed for 123 yards on just four carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run.
Livingston 35, Delhi 0 in Delhi — Celso Sanchez scored two touchdowns and Rocklin Baptista tossed two touchdown passes as the Wolves improved to 3-0 on the season.
Patterson 37, Los Banos 13 in Los Banos — Jordan Imada and Obadiah Godbolt both scored two touchdowns as Patterson (2-1) pulled away in the second half against Los Banos (0-3).
Justin Incaprera carried the ball nine times for 111 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown run for Los Banos.
Sierra 45, Pacheco 12 in Los Banos — Jaikob Salacup scored on a 1-yard sneak to pull the Panthers within 15-6 in the second quarter. However, it was almost all Timberwolves the rest of the way.
Le Grand 41, Big Valley Christian 28 in Modesto — Isacc Davison rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries for the Bulldogs (1-1). Davison had touchdown runs of 49 and 42 yards.
Le Grand sophomore Aaron Martinez completed 12 of 16 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns, including two scoring strikes to Michael Dinkins and two touchdowns to Carlos Martinez.
Stone Ridge Christian 49, Riverbank 7 in Riverbank — Enam Eva-Davis scored five touchdowns, including a blocked punt for a score to lift the Knights (1-2) to their first victory. Eva-Davis carried the ball 10 times for 137 yards and four touchdowns.
Riley Acree completed all four of his passes for 87 yards and connected with Peter Tesone on a touchdown.
Chowchilla 17, Immanuel 14 in Reedley — Jaylinn Gaines rushed for 90 yards and the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter to help the Tribe improve to 2-1 and hand the Eagles (2-1) their first loss of the season. Quarterback Darian Lopez added touchdown runs of 5 and 37 yards for Chowchilla.
Washington Union 40, Dos Palos 6 in Easton — Lawrence Stell threw three touchdowns and Joseph Plaza added two rushing touchdowns as the Panthers (2-1) routed the Broncos. Dos Palos heads into a bye week with a 2-1 record before hosting Chowchilla on Sept. 20.