Six possessions, six touchdowns. That was the Oakdale Mustangs first half on Friday night in the first round of the 2018 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championships. Oakdale, the fifth seed, hosted the 12th seeded Valley Vikings on Friday night, Nov. 2 inside The Corral. The Mustangs got back to what made them a successful team: rushing the ball.
Oakdale’s offensive line bullied the Vikings defense throughout the night and in doing so, Oakdale scored seven rushing touchdowns and allowed quarterback Hayden Knittel time to find open receivers when needed.
“The offensive line did their job and did not miss an assignment. You should be interviewing the O-line and not me,” said running back Evan Waite following the game.
Waite rushed the ball for nearly 100 yards and scored a touchdown in the playoff victory.
Seven days following their disappointing regular season finale home loss to Central Catholic, Oakdale regrouped and focused on the task at hand. Although, coaches admitted, it took a few days to shake off that loss.
“Wednesday. Wednesday night we held practice. It was nice, quiet and no distractions. We turned it on Wednesday night … we found it,” said head coach Trent Merzon.
Oakdale leaped out to an early 7-0 advantage when senior fullback Max Moore blasted his way past the Viking defense for a five-yard rushing score. Moore then scored exactly three minutes later on a one-yard rushing touchdown to double the Mustangs lead. With 2:44 left to play in the first quarter, Zeke Saffar cashed in on a 15-yard rushing touchdown to go up 21-0. Following a Vikings fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Moore scored for the third time in the quarter to have Oakdale cruise to a 28-0 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
In the second quarter the Mustangs added 13 more to their total to take a 41-0 lead into the half. Touchdowns were scored by a Knittel to Saffar 18-yard touchdown connection and Waite scored the final points of the half with a 14-yard rushing score with 7:32 left in the half.
In the third quarter Knittel rushed in from five yards out with 7:31 remaining and that would be the team’s lone score of the quarter. Oakdale’s final touchdown of the night came off the legs of John Creech who scored from five yards out with 6:58 remaining.
Oakdale’s defense held the visitors to just six points, which came late in the third quarter. In the first half they held Valley to a total of negative 26 yards. Oakdale also applied pressure on the Vikings quarterback throughout the night and recorded six sacks. Peyton Bradford, Angel Ayala and Misale Becerra combined for the sacks. Ayala also had a fumble recovery.
Following the win Oakdale will travel to Will C. Wood High School to take on the fourth seeded Wildcats with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday night, Nov. 9 in Vacaville.