The Tokay football team had its back against the wall in Friday’s game against Linden at Hubbard Field, and the Tigers responded to come away with a 27-21 victory.

There were some last-minute fireworks, though.

With running back Joseph Filippini “a little banged up,” Jose Bravo stepped in to take the lion’s share of carries to finish with 149 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.

“We survived. We didn’t play very well in the first half, played better in the second half,” said Tokay coach Michael Holst. “We didn’t do a very good job stopping no. 4 (Linden running back James Sherman Jr.). I’m happy for our guys — it’s senior night, and they deserved the victory. A couple of guys stepped up, like Bravo stepped in with Flip banged up.”

Tokay mounted a 13-0 lead in the first half with touchdowns from Filippini and Bravo (a 2-point conversion failed on the second), but Linden came back with a couple of long runs to lead 14-13 at halftime.

Bravo put the Tigers up 19-14 with a short touchdown in the second half, then scored again in the fourth, with a two-point conversion pass from Ty Didonato to Atticus Salazar.

Near the end of the game, Tokay punted, and Linden returned the ball for a touchdown, but two flags set the Lions far back in their own territory and negated the score. It was the second long Linden touchdown of the game called back due to penalties. Tokay looked to have the drive stalled, but a personal foul on third and 10 gave Linden new life.

Linden’s Sherman got loose for another long run that Holst said looked like a certain touchdown, but Filippini caught him from behind inside the red zone, and Tokay recovered a fumble a couple of plays later.

“You know you’re going to face adversity in the game, so you know, the kind of things you preach before the game, we get to control how we respond,” Holst said. “We’re proud of how they responded. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always going to come out your way all the time, but Linden came to play, and they shouldn’t be hanging their heads. Sometimes the ball bounces our way.”

Tokay (2-1) will play at Tracy (0-3) next week.

Lodi 48, Tracy 21

Four Lodi players found the end zone on the ground on Friday as the Flames defeated Tracy for the first time since 2011.

The win left Lodi with a 3-0 record for the second season in a row.

“I believed before COVID that this was the year we could make the playoffs,” said Lodi coach George Duenas, “and tonight kind of reiterated that for me.”

After Tracy scored the first touchdown, Adolfo Sanchez put Lodi on the board with a field goal. In the second quarter, Lodi’s run game dropped into second gear, with two touchdowns by Isaac Bishop and one from Christian Zamora, plus another Sanchez field goal, to put Lodi up 27-7 at halftime.

“At the beginning we got stopped, but coming in we thought we could run the ball, and once we started hitting our strides, it was power by committee. It was blunt force trauma,” Duenas said. “The line, the wings, those guys played outstanding with the blocking.”

Byrce Powell had a 5-yard run in the third quarter, and Kaiden Merryman added a 55-yard run to put Lodi up 41-14, and Isaac Bishop scored his third touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.

“They’re pretty pumped, man,” said an equally pumped Duenas. “Tracy’s always been a great program, and beating one of the big three of Tracy, St. Mary’s or Lincoln, it’s a big team effort.”

Part of that team effort was Reggie Miles with a disruptive day on the defensive line, Bishop, who grabbed a fumble recovery, and Mason Stout with an interception.

Lodi will take on Lincoln next week at the Grape Bowl. The Trojans took down Tokay 71-6 last week.

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