STOCKTON — The past few years, the St. Mary’s football team has broken opponents’ hearts with overwhelming passing attacks and gaudy offensive numbers.

That’s not the story of the 2018 Rams, and head coach Tony Franks is just fine with that.

St. Mary’s buried Tracy with a powerful run game and sturdy defense in the second half, cruising to a 42-20 win Friday at Sanguinetti Field to claim first place alone atop the Tri-City Athletic League.

The Rams, who tallied 280 rushing yards and averaged 7 yards per carry, haven’t lost a game in the series this century.

“There is nothing wrong with running the ball effectively and playing good defense,” said Franks, a St. Mary’s alumnus who’s in his 20th year overall coaching the Rams. “That’s been a winning formula in football for a lot of years.

“And the rest of it will come, it really will. It’s just timing and rhythm and that will get there.”

St. Mary’s (4-4, 3-0 TCAL) provided the dagger on its second possession of the second half, reeling off a 5-play, 83-yard drive – all runs.

Sophomore Tyrei Washington took the final three carries of the drive. On the first two, Washington barreled over would-be tacklers for gains of 17 and 20 yards. On his touchdown run, from 13, he went mostly untouched down the left sideline.

“He’s a mouthful of shoulder pad coming at you,” Franks said of Washington. “That son of a gun is a tough guy to bring down.”

Washington coupled with senior Will Brown (two first half rushing touchdowns) and junior Taj Brown (team-high 86 rushing yards) to fuel the Rams.

“It’s a nice 1-2-3 punch,” Franks said.

Brown credited the Rams’ linemen – smaller than the Pac-12 recruits of years past, but coming into their own down the stretch.

“The heart of our whole team is our line,” Brown said. “The line competes, and if they perform, everybody performs.”

St. Mary’s final score came after 13 consecutive run plays on a 70-yard screen from quarterback Noah May to receiver Dumaurier Cotton.

On defense, the Rams forced a pair of turnovers on downs in the second half and Brown intercepted Tracy quarterback Logan Fife on a deep pass. Defensive lineman Hunter Jones recovered a fumble in the first half for the Rams, and Dyllen Williams posted a sack.

Fife fired three touchdown passes – two to Trevion Shadrick-Harris and Tracy’s first score to Trevor Pope II.

The Rams did enough to keep Fife and the Bulldogs (5-3, 2-1) uncomfortable and out of rhythm. Part of that, Brown said, was the cornerbacks going back-and-forth between press coverage and softer coverage.

Tracy coach Matt Shrout believes his team simply did not help itself.

“We just didn’t complete a (pass) until halfway through the second quarter. We don’t block up front. It was just bad,” Shrout said. “They didn’t do anything (unique) – we just stopped ourselves.”

Shrout said the Bulldogs have played timidly against their best opponents this year – all road losses to Turlock, Manteca and St. Mary’s.

“The problem is we can’t tackle anybody. When we do get to a spot, we grab their shoulder instead of tackling them low like they do,” Shrout said. “It’s just who we are, I guess. When we play good teams, we don’t play the way we normally should.”

St. Mary’s receiver Asar-Alim Moore reeled off a 48-yard touchdown run, and Washington had a 2-yard TD in the second quarter.

“It was so pleasing tonight to get those tough yards when we needed them,” Franks said.