Delta football earns bowl bid

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Phillip Kimble dives for the end zone pylon for a touchdown.
Tywayne Ario-Adams celebrates scoring a first quarter touchdown.
Tywayne Ario-Adams celebrates scoring a first quarter touchdown.

Rally leads to 42-35 victory over rival Modesto Jr. College

The Delta College Mustangs (6-4, 4-1 Valley Conference) rallied past the Modesto Junior College Pirates (5-5, 2-3 Valley Conference) with a score of 42-35 at DeRicco Field on Nov. 14.

The win helped the Mustangs clinch the team’s first postseason bowl game since 2012, while extending their winning streak to four games.

Phillip Kimble dives for the end zone pylon for a touchdown.
Phillip Kimble dives for the end zone pylon for a touchdown.

“After going 1-9, it was a rough year … Going into the off-season we were like that’s not going to be us. We’re going to change this program,” said Sophomore Quarterback Phillip Kimble. “We came out this year, we’re 6-4, 4-1 in league. The sophomore leadership and the freshmen coming in it’s just a good mesh. Bringing back the Delta way.”

The stakes couldn’t have been higher in the 4th quarter as the Mustangs trailed the Pirates 29-28 with 9:40 left in the game and the ball in the hands of a Modesto offense that ranks first in the state in total offense (4,734 yards) and second in points per game (40.2).

Sophomore Defensive Back Christian Valeros helped Delta stay in the game late by intercepting MJC quarterback Trey Cooper.

“Our defense, we get down to work,” said Valeros. “We come in and know we have to make plays because our offense isn’t going to score on every drive.”

Six plays later, Kimble scored on a play-action fake, rushing in the endzone from five-yards out, putting the Mustangs ahead 34-29 with 5:20 left in the game.

Modesto responded 18 seconds later, as Cooper connected with wide receiver Ravon Alexander for a 56-yard touchdown to recapture the lead at 35-34.

The Mustangs answered with an 11 play, 75-yard drive capped off by a one-yard rushing touchdown by tight end Johhny Wiernicki.

The Mustangs converted a two-point conversion attempt, as Wiernicki caught a shovel pass from backup quarterback Logan Lopes for a 42-35 lead.

“The line blocked tremendously on that last play,” said Wiernicki. “They’re driving their feet, pushing those d-linemen back so big props to them. It was a big situation and big players show up in big situations.”

With 40 seconds left, Cooper drove to the Mustang’s 40-yard line and underthrew a pass towards the end zone and sophomore defensive back Winston Green dived for the game clinching interception.

Green is known as “The Closer” by teammates due to his knack for ending games.

“I just like making plays, honestly,” said Green. “Just do whatever I can do to seal the win for my team.”

Last week Green made a goal line pass deflection in coverage on fourth down against Laney College for the 26-20 victory.

Endings like these are a far cry from the last two seasons and show a change in culture and mentality.

“They don’t doubt, they don’t splinter, they don’t start pointing the finger, they kind of believe in each other and I’m really proud of them,” said coach Gary Barlow. “Proud of what the coaches have been able to do in terms of kind of molding ‘em into the team that they are and real excited about finding out what our bowl situation is going to be.”

The Mustangs are now scheduled to play in the Gridiron Classic Bowl against American River College (7-3, 4-1 NorCal) Delta College would play at American River College (7-3, 4-1 NorCal) on Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.

Delta lost on the road at ARC 44-24 on Sept. 19.