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Mustangs Ground Eagles, Advance To Semifinals
Mustang quarterback Adam Olsen picked apart the Eagles defense with both his arm and his legs. The mobile quarterback threw for a touchdown and ran for a 52 yard score to help lead the Mustangs, who now advance to the semifinals on Friday night. - photo by Courtesy Of Mary Hackbarth

The Oakdale Mustangs welcomed Vista Del Lago this past Friday night to The Corral with the winner advancing to the semifinals of the 2014 Sac Joaquin Section Championship in Division III. Oakdale pulled away in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 21 contest to win 42-14 and keep their season alive.

In what started off as a defensive battle throughout most of the first quarter, Oakdale’s Brock Whiting powered his way through the Eagles defensive line and through the secondary before demonstrating his speed to go 60 yards downfield for the first score of the evening, giving the Mustangs a 7-0 lead with 1:14 to go in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, following another drive, Oakdale faced a fourth and two from the Eagles 13 and head coach Trent Merzon didn’t hesitate to send his offense back on the field. Quarterback Adam Olsen used the hard count to draw the Eagles offside for the automatic first down and bring the ball inside the seven yard line. Oakdale capitalized on the miscue and running back Darus Nelson took the handoff and found his way into the end zone to double the Mustangs lead, 14-0 with 8:46 remaining in the half.

However, the sixth seeded Eagles showcased their high flying offense and mounted an 11-play, 84-yard drive capped off by running back Colby Carrera’s rushing touchdown from inside the one yard line to cut the lead in half with 1:09 remaining in the first half.

Much like they have the entire season, Oakdale didn’t waste any time countering on their opponents’ scoring play. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Olsen made the Eagles defense pay using his legs. Under pressure, Olsen managed to shake off the blitzing linebacker, and took off down the sidelines and into the open field for a 62-yard rushing touchdown with 42 seconds left in the half. Oakdale would carry the 21-7 lead into the half.

Both defenses regrouped during halftime, resulting in a scoreless third quarter. However, the Mustangs offense reemerged in the final frame. After forcing the Eagles to punt, Oakdale only needed three plays to extend their lead. On first and 10 from the Eagles 39, Nelson slipped through the defensive line and turned on the burners as he raced down the field for his second score of the evening giving Oakdale a 28-7 lead with 10:49 left in the game.

Vista Del Lago bounced back and made a visit to the Mustangs red zone but couldn’t cash in on their opportunity as the Mustangs defense made a stand on fourth and six from the 12, resulting in an incomplete pass as pressure came from Landen Ichord, Wyatt Hjelm and Jon Carmelich, who was celebrating his 18th birthday that night.

“Best birthday present I could ask for. A home win in the playoffs and our season continues next week,” said an excited Carmelich.

Olsen and company marched down the field on four plays that were capped off by a 23-yard pass play to wide receiver Bobby Depuy for the Mustangs touchdown, giving Oakdale a 35-7 lead with 8:05 left in the game. Oakdale continued to make the most of the Eagles offensive struggles, as Hjelm sacked quarterback Matt Jimison on fourth down to give the Mustangs the ball back at their own 42 yard line.

Oakdale running back Brad Aquino took over in the backfield and carried the ball twice on the drive for a total of 58 yards, setting up his fellow running back teammate CJ Domingo for a six-yard rushing touchdown for the Mustangs final score of the evening.

“We just wanted to keep grinding them for four quarters. We knew that they wouldn’t be able to stop us if we able to run the ball the way we have throughout the season, or even in the playoffs so far,” shared Aquino.

The Eagles found the end zone on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jimison to his wide receiver Blake Martin with just 1:00 to play but it was too little, too late, the host Mustangs earning the 42-14 victory.

“We continued to grind them out offensively and defensively tonight. They became winded in the second half and we took advantage of that,” said Mustang Ben Solario, who ended the night with six solo tackles and two deflected passes.

The postseason push continues, as Oakdale will host the 10th seeded Rio Linda Knights on Friday, Nov. 28. The Knights have become the surprise of the playoffs, as they finished second in the Tri-County League this regular season with an overall record of 10-2. Rio Linda so far has knocked off Placer and Sierra on the road in the playoffs, and has scored a tournament high 111 points in two games.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday night at The Corral.