In front of a Trojan crowd Friday night at Alex G. Spanos Stadium in Stockton, Tracy upset Lincoln, 37-21.
Prior to this game, Lincoln had beaten the Bulldogs (6-0 overall, 1-0 San Joaquin Athletic Association) in their past seven matchups by an average of 38 points. Tracy won in 1993 and 1994, but the two teams didn’t face each other again until 2002. Since then, the Trojans (4-2, 0-1 SJAA) have beaten the Bulldogs every year.
Tracy’s players and coaches looked at this game as the first big step in making some noise in league play. Last year, the Bulldogs finished second to the Trojans in the SJAA.
“It’s a big win for our program and a big win for our school,” head coach Mark Stroup said. “It’s a big monkey off our back. The kids deserve the credit — they made the plays.”
Tracy led by a comfortable margin for most of the game, but the Trojans made things interesting in the fourth quarter. Down 23-14, Lincoln cut the lead to two with a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Tyler Sullivan to Brandin Cooks, who walked a tightrope to stay inbounds.
The Bulldogs scored on the ensuing drive with a 14-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-4 by quarterback Casey Wichman to make it 30-21.
“When the play started, I saw it develop and I just saw a huge hole to run through,” Wichman said. “I was expecting to get hit.”
The junior passer finished the game 10-for-15 with 157 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 49 yards on the ground. Senior running back Depray Celestine led the rushing attack, going 111 yards on 11 carries.
After senior cornerback Jordan Williams picked off a Sullivan pass, Tracy sealed the win with a 2-yard touchdown dive by senior fullback Jordan Strong.
“I don’t even have words to say how good it feels to win,” said senior linebacker Billy Simon, whose eight tackles led the Bulldogs. Simon, senior defensive back Ricky Diaz, Williams and Celestine also recorded an interception each.
The Trojans went most of the game without starting QB Brandon Gildea, who was playing with a sore throwing shoulder and left in the first quarter. Gildea scored the game’s first touchdown, a 20-yard pass to receiver Cedric Anderson. In relief, Sullivan went 10-for-21 with 110 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Tracy answered Gildea’s first quarter touchdown pass with a 36-yard field goal from senior kicker Max Garrigan.
The Bulldogs took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter on a 1-yard Strong touchdown run and did not look back.
Tracy added six more later in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Wichman to Diaz. Both teams traded touchdowns before halftime, making it 23-14.
“This is the biggest one, but we’ve got many more to finish,” said Strong, who ran the ball 13 times for 50 yards and two scores. “Last year, we got killed and I felt so bad for the seniors. I don’t want to be in that state.”
Next week, Tracy will host Chavez at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Tracy Press reporter Justin Lafferty at 830-4269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.