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PURE ELATION - Bruins Pull Off Overtime Upset To Open Football Season
If Riverbank High football coach James Oliver would have pulled a rabbit out of his "RBK Football" ball cap on Friday, it still wouldn't have made the Bruins' varsity season opener any more magical.

Riverbank tied the game with 16 seconds to play, then landed a fourth down touchdown pass in overtime, which was capped by a Jose Vigil extra point to secure the Bruins a 20-19 victory over host Waterford.

"We could have easily accepted a loss late in the game and been content to have played them tough, but we wanted more," Oliver said. "I think every kid on our team was crying afterwards. It was awesome."

No one cried more than senior quarterback Alex Reynaga, who took the offense on his shoulders for 150 of the team's 233 total yards. He slammed into the end zone on fourth and one during the waning moments of the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Waterford blocked the ensuing extra point attempt. Later he found Raymond Burney open for a four-yard overtime touchdown to again tie the score, and held the ball for Vigil's kick to win the game.

Reynaga could barely speak afterwards.

"I'm so happy," Reynaga choked out. "I had never won a game at Riverbank, and the whole team just wanted it so bad."

Reynaga didn't play in Riverbank's previous victory (vs. Delhi, Sept. 25, 2009), but was around for 10 straight losses during a dismal season in 2010 where Riverbank was outscored 473-80. It was the same year Waterford trounced Riverbank 35-6 and went on to qualify for the playoffs.

The Wildcats returned one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's top rushers in Dylan Gonzales, but Riverbank kept him from landing big plays and forced the senior runner to carry 31 times for his 157 yards.

"We knew he was going to get the ball a lot and we weren't going to hold him under 100 yards," Oliver said. "But (defensive coordinator Terrel Powell) did a good job of game planning against him, and he was real proud of the defense."

Riverbank stunned the Wildcat defense by driving the field on a five minute, 48 second possession that culminated with Burney's 12-yard touchdown run.

Waterford answered back with a long drive that was only sustained after two converted fourth down attempts at midfield. Gonzales scored from three yards out and later added a two-yard touchdown to give Waterford a 13-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

Riverbank rallied late to tie the game, but a blocked extra point set up Waterford for the first of two overtime possessions (CIF tiebreaker). A crafty double reverse gave the Wildcats a score on their first play of extra time, but their extra point sailed wide right.

Reynaga responded with the fourth-down connection to Burney, and Vigil sent Riverbank players, coaches and fans into pandemonium when his extra point deflected off the arm of a would-be kick-blocker and sailed through the uprights.

"I came from a Turlock program that had experienced a lot of success, so I didn't realize the impact a victory like this would have on the team," Oliver said. "I think a little buzz is going around about this team. I think now that we know what a victory feels like we need to keep the focus and turn the page."

The next page is a Friday showdown with host Denair, who punished Riverbank 50-6 a season ago and also went on to qualify for the postseason. The Coyotes didn't play a week 0 game, but return senior quarterback Jim Atkinson, who threw for over 1,000 yards last year.