Coming off its first loss, and with league play looming around the corner, the Lodi High football team scored four plays into Friday’s game against Bear Creek.
And that was after starting on defense.
Bear Creek coughed up five turnovers and Lodi’s Christian Zamora ran for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Lodi cruised to a 35-7 victory at the Grape Bowl.
“We got out of this game healthy, we’re getting guys back — that’s the thing, before the season, you look at a team and you have a good team, but if you get the injury bug, it ruins your plans,” said Lodi coach George Duenas. “It’s the art of football. Right now we’re starting to get healthy, we’re starting to get comfortable, so we’re in a great spot heading into next week.”
Another big contributor for Lodi (4-1) was receiver/linebacker Korbin Mason, who caught two touchdown passes — from two different quarterbacks — to go along with a sack and a fumble recovery on defense.
“I mean, you’ve got to do for your team,” Mason said. “You’ve got to make plays for the boys, and try and get the offense to the ball so we can put more points up.”
The Bruins received the opening kickoff, and two plays later fumbled the ball to the Lodi defense on their own 16-yard line. Two plays later, Niko Cabrera crashed through a defender into the end zone for the opening touchdown. Bear Creek (0-5) mounted a long drive to the Lodi 16 in response, only to lose the ball on a fumble again.
The Flames went 73 yards in four plays, a drive that ended on a 36-yard Adam Schallberger pass to Mason, who caught the ball over a leaping cornerback on the 10-yard line and ran it in.
After Bear Creek scored its only points of the game on a similar pass from Gabe Rodriguez to Marcos Tristan, Lodi put together a sustained drive to put Mason in the end zone again, this time on a 6-yard pass from Logan Stout early in the second quarter.
“We had to do something,” Mason said about last week’s loss to Edison, Lodi’s first of the season. “We couldn’t just let people doubt us on that game, so we had to keep it up, keep our heads up.”
The teams settled into a battle in the middle of the field until midway through the third quarter, when Lodi’s Jose Bravo blocked a Calvin Tran punt at about the 50-yard line, and Cabrera scooped it for a return deep into Bruin territory. With another short field, two runs from Zamora put the Flames in the end zone to go up 28-7, bouncing off at least three defenders on his 17-yard score.
“Offensively we struggled last week, so I thought we did a decent job for the most part, coming out,” Duenas said. “We were able to score some points right away, and plus with the homecoming, it’s always a distraction. I don’t care what anyone says, and our guys did a good job balancing both. So it was good coming off the loss.”
Bear Creek put the ball on the ground for the third time two plays into their next drive, and Lodi gave the ball to Zamora again for a 27-yard touchdown run on 3rd and 11.
That turned out to be the final score of the game with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter, as Bear Creek went three-and-out and then stalled at its own 29-yard line on its two fourth-quarter drives. Lodi put its reserves in for its final drive, and advanced the ball to the Bear Creek 3 before kneeling out the clock.
“We’re feeling pretty good right now,” Mason said. “We think we can do some pretty big things. I mean, if everybody gets together, we can do this.”
The Flames now head into Tri-City Athletic League play, starting next Friday with Lincoln (5-0) at the Grape Bowl. Duenas was cautious not to read too much into the big offensive night against Bear Creek.
“It’s pretty good, but I know they’re banged up pretty good, too. They said they lost like seven kids. Starters,” Duenas said. “So it’s a big deal, but honestly we’re going to be playing a bigger, more physical line next week. I mean, I’m excited, defense is playing well, we’ve just got to step up next week.”
Stout added 52 rushing yards on four carries. For Bear Creek, Brian Adams carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards, Daveyon Phillips had 11 rushes for 21 yards, and Rodriguez completed 6 of 14 passes for 67 yards.
“Hey, we’re 4-1, man,” Duenas said. “We’ve already surpassed last year, so that’s exciting. I’m excited for them.”