By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Late Rally Lifts Mustangs Over Bulldogs In Thriller
The Mustangs running game proved to be a big factor in the teams thrilling victory. Shown is running back Brock Whiting rushing his way for a first down during the first quarter of the game. - photo by DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

If you were anywhere in the city limits of Oakdale on Friday night, odds are you could probably hear the stomping of the feet from both Oakdale and Turlock fans hitting the bleachers, roars from both sides of the field, the hard hits or even the rich voice of Mustang announcer Pete Simoncini. However, if you didn’t witness the Mustangs late fourth quarter heroics live from The Corral, you missed something special. The varsity Mustangs found themselves on the winning end of a 30-29 nail bitter against visiting Turlock in non-league play.

Mustangs junior running back/defensive back, Darus Nelson made his presence felt early and often, as he intercepted Bulldogs quarterback Bubba Moreno on the opening drive. After each team struggled to find any offensive rhythm, the Mustangs began to run the ball well behind Nelson, Brock Whiting, Frankie Trent, and quarterback Adam Olsen to help set up a 46 yard field goal attempt from C.J. Backman, but it sailed wide left. Following the missed field goal, Turlock would complete a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended with running back Danny Velasquez bursting his way through the Oakdale defensive line and into the end zone for the first points of the evening and giving Turlock a 7-0 lead with 11:06 remaining in the first half.

On the ensuing kickoff, Nelson used his quick speed, elusiveness and with help from his teammates blocking, turned on the burners and returned the kick 77 yards to tie the game with 10:49 remaining in the half.

Two Mustang drives later the varsity squad continued to grind things out on the ground as Trent had a pair of big runs including a 15-yard burst on third and three and a 13 yard gain on first down to get the Mustangs in the red zone for the first time in the game. The Turlock defense would stand tall and force kicker Backman back on the field to attempt a 25 yard chip shot. Backman would split the uprights and give the Mustangs a 10-7 advantage with 5:16 left in the second quarter.

Turlock was not fazed and mustered up an impressive 10-play, 82-yard drive that resulted in a short three yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Allen Padilla to give Turlock a 14-10 lead with 1:02 left. The visitors would carry that four point lead into halftime.

Turlock, who deferred the coin toss in the first half, would receive the second half kickoff. Marching down the field and threatening to expand their lead, Moreno was looking for his sure handed receiver Padilla in the end zone but was intercepted by Oakdale’s Brandon Davis, putting a halt to the 12-play drive.

Both defenses continued to make plays and did their part to contain the high powered offenses, until Turlock put together a drive that had a balanced air and ground attack that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown strike from Moreno to his wide receiver Jacob Mabie in the corner of the end zone to extend their lead 21-10 with 3:55 to play in the third quarter.

Much like the Mustangs did in the first half, they didn’t lose their composure and answered right back with a score of their own.

Starting out at their own 36-yard line after the kickoff, Olsen and company marched down the field. On the seventh play of the drive Olsen handed the ball off to Nelson, who followed his blockers and shook off the defender and found the end zone for the 27-yard score. Trailing 21-16 at that point, head coach Trent Merzon decided to go