History was made on a cold yet heated night in Stockton as Enterprise of Redding did the CIF Northern Section proud with a 27-21 win over Manteca in the CIF Northern California Division II Bowl Game.
Selected as just the third team from the Northern Section to play in a regional or state bowl game since 2006, the Hornets rallied from a 14-0 deficit after the first quarter to take the lead with three touchdowns in a five-minute span to open the second quarter.
Izzy Matthews got the Hornets on the board with a three-yard touchdown run and just minutes later QB Bobby Luken ran one in from five yards out after the defense had recovered a fumble near midfield. With the game tied at 14, the Hornets got ball right back on a squib kickoff that they recovered and four plays later they took their first of two leads on the night as Matthews scored from a yard out.
Alex Laurel scored the game’s first touchdown on a two-yard run and his 42-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter had the game tied at 21 apiece at the halftime break.
Jace O’Ravez opened the second half scoring with a four-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half, which ended up being the game’s final and game-winning points.
In what will be the most talked about play of the game, Manteca’s Laurel took a hand off and appeared to be headed for the game-tying touchdown. Just as he was stumbling to the ground, however, he tried to reach out and have the ball cross the goal line and as he was going to the ground the ball came loose and was fumbled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback with 10:05 remaining.
Those on the Buffaloes’ sideline were convinced he had crossed the goal line and scored a touchdown before the ball came loose.
The Buffaloes had the ball back two more times but an interception and a turnover on downs set the stage for the Hornets to run out the final 3:58 of the game.
Despite the weather being cold, the game was hard-hitting and had both teams heated throughout the contest. At one point, the referee had to go to the Manteca sideline to retrieve an Enterprise player’s shoe and several skirmishes happened during the game. Then, during the post-game handshake, a brawl had people coming onto the field from both sides.
“Unfreakenbelieveable!! I don’t care what they said!! You don’t act like that ever!! That’s embarrassing!!,” said Hornets’ head coach Darren Trueblood to his team after the two sides were separated before receiving their awards.
“We weathered the storm and had the long bus ride,” Trueblood said. “They came out and jumped on top of us but we came back and shut them out in the second half. We just out-physicaled them. We just beat them up in the second half. We are making history for this school and the section.”
“This is the best feeling I have ever had in my entire life,” said Matthews after the game as he finished with 165 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. “A lot of people were doubting us coming into this game. We know how to play up the Northern Section. We can play up there. I can’t wait for another road trip with my boys.”
That road trip will have the Hornets facing off for the CIF Division II state championship when they’ll face 13-2 Chaminade of West Hills. Despite Enterprise being 13-0 and Chaminade having two losses, the Southern California team will be a big favorite.