Homecoming Week is only considered complete when the varsity football team comes up with a victory.
Oakdale’s defense, after giving up a surprising 14-0 first quarter lead to Sierra on Oct. 18, kept the Timberwolves off the scoreboard in the second and stuffed strong-armed quarterback Jake Pruitt for three interceptions in the third quarter alone. Pulling in the picks were Tyler Flores, Kevin Corral and Homecoming King Tanner Morgan. Mustang junior Brock Whiting scored his second touchdown in that pivotal third quarter to help the host squad pull away for a pivotal 24-17 Valley Oak League victory and Landon Ichord recorded a satisfying sack.
With two touchdown passes on two drives, Sierra was driving deep into Mustang territory again in the second quarter when, after a series of defensive stops made it fourth and 19, a pass sailed through a Sierra receiver’s hands and with it went the Timberwolves offense.
Mustang sophomore Darus Nelson made quick use of the momentum, racing 21 yards before junior Max Stevens followed with runs of 5 and 8 yards; and Brock Whiting finished the drive with a touchdown run to cut the deficit in half, 14-7.
This one wasn’t getting away from Oakdale.
Nelson converted on fourth down in the second quarter to keep a field goal drive alive by going up high for a lob pass from senior Dillon Tamburrino and coming down for the catch with his back to the turf and a defender delivering a hit. Once in range, sophomore kicker Lane Trapp, Homecoming Prince and just brought up from a 4-1 junior varsity squad, was good from 23 yards out to make it 14-10 Sierra at halftime.
Oakdale coaches and players never doubted they would put this one in the win column or, if they did, kept that fact hidden from their opponents.
The Sierra offense, which came in averaging 45 points a game, was held to its lowest output of the season by a ball-hawking Mustang defense that intercepted Pruitt on the first three drives of the third quarter. Oakdale’s defense, other than a late field goal, shut down the spread offense of Sierra, stifling its three wide-receiver sets.
On the second half’s first three possessions the Mustangs got their picks, backed up by a big touchdown run from Stevens to go up 17-14 before Whiting put the Mustangs up 24-14 with a 1-yard touchdown run with 10:19 left in the fourth. Sierra added a late 30-yard field goal but burned their last timeout late in the game only to watch the Mustangs take a knee to kill to the clock for another win at The Corral.
Oakdale, which lost by a point to a Turlock team in playoff contention and still undefeated Northern Section power Enterprise by about a foot in a brutal preseason, is 4-3 after consecutive peak pressure games against VOL contenders and running downhill to face the league’s cellar-dwellers. Next week the Mustangs play at 3-4 Kimball, which lost 49-12 to Manteca, followed by 1-5 Lathrop at home on Senior Night and rival Sonora, who bumped their record to 2-5 after a routing of Weston Ranch 55-12.
The Mustangs, with only one clear cut loss on the season, dropped Sierra to 5-2, bumping the Timberwolves for the second VOL playoff seed, with an outside chance at a co-league title if Sierra wins its home showdown against Manteca on Nov. 1.
Manteca is 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the VOL with a 186-60 points for-points allowed ratio. Oakdale and Sierra are both 3-1 in league with the Mustangs having a PF-PA 134-72 ratio and the Timberwolves at 154-64.
The Mustangs junior varsity team tied Sierra 15-15 in the Homecoming contest, on a potential game-winning drive as time expired.