MANTECA - Have a happy homecoming, Jacob De Jesus.
The 5-foot-6 junior was everywhere Friday night in Manteca, tallying three total touchdowns and an interception to lead the Manteca High football team to a 54-18 blowout victory over visiting Tracy.
De Jesus had two rushing touchdowns for the Buffaloes (2-2), and caught a TD from quarterback Ryan Ward. The signal caller also connected with Kyle Lynch for a touchdown, with running back Chris Ortiz adding two scores of his own.
For Tracy, quarterback Logan Fife threw two touchdown passes, both to Trevion Shadrick-Harris. Elias Williams added a rushing score.
This game was pegged, at least by one writer, to be a battle between similarly-matched opponents. And in the opening minutes of the game, it was.
Manteca scored first with Miguel Sequeira punching it in from a yard out. The drive itself was started by two straight rushes by De Jesus, the Buffaloes’ leading receiver in 2017, for 20 yards.
Manteca’s regular running back, Trabron Russell, was in street clothes on the sidelines with an apparent knee injury. So, De Jesus added running back to an arsenal that already includes wideout and cornerback.
“He played unbelievably, on both sides of the ball,” said Manteca first-year head coach Mark Varnum. “He plays so much bigger than he is, and he has so much heart. He went to work tonight.”
Tracy responded right away, with a pair of 20-plus yard throws by Fife setting up a Williams rushing score from three yards out.
That’s where the theory of a score-for-score slugfest ended, however. The Buffaloes went on to put 34 more points on the board in the first half, and led 41-6 at one point.
The only points Tracy got back before the break came with less than a minute left, when Trevion Shadrick-Harris took a pass from Fife 53 yards to the end zone. Fife found Shadrick-Harris again for a 36-yard score in the second half, but that was it for the Bulldogs.
Manteca capped the evening with touchdown runs by De Jesus and Alex Gouveia in the second half.
Tracy has now lost two in a row, and has seen a significant drop off in play after a 2-0 start. What’s more concerning to head coach Matt Shrout, he said, is the Bulldogs are playing without an established identity.
“We have a huge identity crisis,” Shrout said. “We have to figure out something. Right now, we’re in the middle of everything. So that’s what we’re going to work on this week.”
Manteca, meanwhile, broke its own two-game losing streak with the win. The team was dealing with some toxins in some ways, De Jesus said. A win on homecoming was a fitting cleanse.
“We have to stay together as a family,” De Jesus said. “This game, we came out with high, intense energy. That’s what we need to have happen every game.”
The Buffaloes head to Modesto next week to play Central Catholic. They know it’s a tall order to take on the Raiders, but Ward said a win like Friday’s should send Manteca in the right direction.
“Our team fully understands what we’re capable of now,” Ward said. “I know next week’s going to be just as tough, if not tougher.
“But we’re excited. We’re going to go to work all next week, and see how it goes.”