Los Banos rallies to beat Davis in Western Athletic Conference showdown

They say looks can be deceiving, but so can records.

The Los Banos High football team was 0-4 heading into Friday night’s game against Davis at Modesto Junior College. But the Tigers certainly didn’t play like a winless team against the Spartans, who entered the game 4-0.

Justin Incaprera rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns and Los Banos defeated Davis 24-17 in an entertaining Western Athletic Conference game that saw the Tigers rally from a 17-7 deficit.

Davis coach Tim Garcia knew his team would have its hands full with Los Banos, despite its lack of victories.

“We knew (Los Banos) was a very, very difficult opponent, regardless of record coming into the game,” Garcia said. “We know that they’re going to be well-coached and physical, and they won the football game at the line of scrimmage tonight.”

It was a satisfying first win of the season for the Tigers, who had played four quality opponents to start the season and came up short each time.

“We’ve been preaching to our guys all along just to believe in the process,” Los Banos coach Dustin Caropreso said. “When you’re 0-4, that’s uncharted water for us.”

Penalties plagued Los Banos (1-4, 1-1 WAC) in the first half and it appeared the Tigers might be overmatched against the up-tempo Spartan offense. But after Davis took the 17-7 lead early in the second quarter, the Spartans’ offense went quiet.

Los Banos kept grinding, pulling within 17-10 right before halftime, then getting within 17-16 late in the third quarter after Incaprera’s second TD run. A botched point-after attempt kept Davis (4-1, 1-1 WAC) in the lead.

Despite a good effort through the air and on the ground, Spartans quarterback Elijah Diaz made some costly mistakes, throwing two interceptions and fumbling in the third quarter. Diaz went 20 for 28 with with 168 yards and a 20-yard touchdown. He also ran for a short TD.

But the Spartans’ mistakes were too much to overcome and Los Banos went ahead with 8:24 left in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard quarterback keeper by Colby Copp. A 2-point conversion made it a 7-point Los Banos lead.

The Spartans mounted a long drive in the final minutes, but came up 10 yards short with Diaz being tackled on the game’s final play.

Moving forward, Davis will have to try to eliminate the turnovers if they want to contend for the WAC title.

“Nothing’s going to change for us,” Garcia said. “We’re going to try to work on the things that we can control, and get better and work on the little mistakes we made today.”

Davis will try to rebound next week against Pacheco (2-3, 1-1 WAC) in Los Banos.

Los Banos will travel to Mountain House.

Caropreso said he thinks his team will respond well to finally getting in the win column.

“I’ve been preaching that to these guys, get one win and it tastes better,” he said. “We’ve been tasting those losses. But our kids have held tight.”

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Jim Silva has been involved in covering local sports and news for The Modesto Bee since 1996. He graduated with a degree in journalism from San Jose State.
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