Downey quarterback Bryce Gouker scrambles away from the East Union defense during a 49-30 victory on Aug. 23, 2019 at Dino Cunial Field in Manteca. (Daniel Harris)

High-five: Gouker, Downey go deep in 49-30 road victory over East Union

Ron Agostini

MANTECA – They’ll be no issues at quarterback this season at Downey High. Senior Bryce Gouker is the man.

Gouker keynoted the 2019 season Friday night with a major statement, leading the Knights to touchdowns on their first four possessions. He finished with five touchdown passes  and two conversion tosses for 302 passing yards, more than enough in Downey’s 49-30 victory over East Union at Dino Cunial Field.

“Tonight’s game went pretty good, but still a lot to fix,”said Gouker, who orchestrated Downey’s potent offense without a turnover. “There were a lot of good things and also some bad things.”

 Last year, Gouker and Beau Green operated at QB, but they’ll be no sharing this season as long as Gouker stays upright. He made every requisite throw in the Knights’ potent typically high-powered attack – hitches, slants and deep passes, almost all of them on target.

Consider: Gouker and Green combined for five touchdown passes in Downey’s 39-19 win over East Union last year. This time, Gouker needed no second man.

 The game’s tempo was set on the first series. An inadvertent whistle cost East Union a touchdown,and the replayed down resulted in an interception by the Knights’  Cody Love.  Minutes later, Gouker tossed four yards to Bronson England for the early lead.  From that point, the Knights led while the Lancers chased.

Downey, finding balance with hard-hardworking running back Robert Rivera (19 carries, 85 touchdowns TD) outgained East Union 409-313. Rivera stretched his 150 pounds to the maximum and seldom went down easily.

Downey also features a dangerous new target in 6-foot-2 receiver Joseph Easterwood (nine catches,147 yards, two touchdowns, one conversion). He ripped down the East Union sideline on a 57-yard pass-catch for a TD and a 28-8 Downey lead early in the second quarter.

Downey extended its lead to 42-16 during the third quarter when the feisty home team arose on two explosive scoring plays – a 49-yard run by quarterback Eric Morales, followed minutes later by a 67-yard dash by junior Carlos Alvarez  (96 rushing yards, 2 TDs).

“We’re a little of a Jekyll and Hyde-type team,” Downey coach Jeremy Plaa said. “We came out on fire…then we gave up a couple of plays.The defense played so well for so long. They didn’t deserve to give up 30 points. They played better than that.”

Downey responded, mostly behind Rivera and Gouker’s strong arm. Michael Nevarez’s 4-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter stabilized the Knights.

“The best type of game is when you get a win and you can still go back and work on things you messed up,” said Plaa, who already looked ahead toward next week’s rematch against Manteca (Downey prevailed a year ago). “We can’t make the same mistakes against them and expect to win.”


Downey 49, East Union 30

Downey      20-8-14-7– 49

East Union    8-8-14-0– 30

1st Quarter

D – Bronson England 4 pass from Bryce Gouker (Joseph Easterwood pass from Gouker)

EU – Carlos Alvarez 18 run (Tyler Diaz run)

D – England 16 pass from Gouker (pass failed)

D – Robert Rivera 1 run (pass failed)

2nd Quarter

D – Easterwood 47 pass from Gouker (Lawrence Harris pass from Gouker)

EU – Diaz 4 run (Diaz pass from Eric Morales)

3rd Quarter

D – Easterwood 15 pass from Gouker (Cris Cortez kick)

D – Harris 24 pass from Gouker (Cortez kick)

EU – Morales 49 run (Ryland Toves pass from Morales)

EU – Alvarez 67 run (run failed)

4th Quarter

D – Michael Nevarez 4 run (Cortez )

Records – Downey 1-0, East Union 0-1

JV – East Union 22-6

Fr (Thursday night) – East Union 22-6