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Mustangs Pluck The Eagles In First Round
DIII Football
For 17 years Mustangs head coach Trent Merzon has patrolled the sidelines and always brings intensity to the field.Leader Photos By Dennis D. Cruz

Thursday night football kicked off the 2017 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Inside The Corral, the top seeded Oakdale Mustangs defeated the number 16 seed McNair Eagles 56-12. McNair finished the season with a 5-5 record overall and went 3-2 in the San Joaquin Athletic Association.

The Mustangs got off to a fast start with their running attack and dominant defense.

Oakdale’s backfield of Cameron Cherry and Joshua Jacobson racked up nearly 350 combined rushing yards and scored six of the team’s eight touchdowns in the first round victory. Cherry scored the first touchdown of the night on an eight-yard rush with 8:56 left in the first quarter. Jacobson then found the end zone on a 12-yard run with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter to go up 14-0.

Quarterback Marc Dickson completed one of his two pass attempts early in the second quarter. Dickson connected with a wide open Hunter Falconi for a 42-yard touchdown catch and run to give Oakdale a 21-0 lead less than one minute into the second quarter. On the team’s next possession, Cherry continued to punish the Eagles defense with a 22-yard rushing touchdown to give Oakdale a commanding 28-0 advantage with 8:58 left in the half.

The Eagles did not back down from the defending State Champions, however. Down 28-0 the visiting Eagles regrouped and found a way to get back into the game. McNair’s mobile quarterback Rafael Lara drove his team downfield and scored on a nine-yard keeper to trim the lead down to 28-6 with 6:54 left to play in the half. Later in the quarter the Eagles recovered a fumble on a mishandled punt by Zac Campbell. The Eagles marched down the field and scored on a Dennis Oyewole six-yard rush to make it 28-12 with 40 seconds remaining in the half. The high scoring first half came to a close on a Jacobson’s 58-yard touchdown run to give Oakdale a 35-12 halftime lead.

The Mustangs scored three more touchdowns in the third quarter to put the finishing touches on the Eagles. Cherry scored his final touchdown of the game from one yard out with 10:10 left in the third. Cherry finished the night with 186 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Jacobson scored less than one minute later from 25 yards out to boost the Mustangs lead to 49-12. Jacobson’s impressive night finished with 13 carries for 156 yards and a trio of touchdowns. Scoring the final touchdown of the night was Oscar Ramos, converting on a one-yard rush with 22 seconds left in the third.

Oakdale’s defense truly grounded the Eagles. The defensive line applied pressure to Lara as Zac Campbell came away with two and a half sacks, Levi Ichord one and a half sacks. Makai Harris had a key interception in the red zone early in the first quarter.

“We as a defense knew what we had to do tonight. Coach told us all week how explosive the McNair offense was. So we were all on alert tonight,” Harris said of his heads up interception.

CJ Toledo also had a big impact defensively. He deflected a deep pass that saved a potential Eagle touchdown in the first half and fell on a loose ball to recover a fumble that ended a long Eagles drive.

“One of my teammates knocked the ball loose, and I was in the right place at the right time,” Toledo said. “McNair is a very good team and we caught a few breaks tonight.”