For the 100th time, Oakdale and Sonora squared off on the varsity football field. Over the last decade it has been Oakdale walking away with the victory on a Friday night, but this was not the case in the team’s season opener. Sonora defended their home field as the Wildcats slashed the Mustangs 27-13 at Dunlavy Field on Aug. 26.
Sonora built up a 20-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Oakdale’s woes began early in the first quarter when Sonora’s senior quarterback Josh Harris rushed for an 11-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive with 9:07 remaining in the first quarter to go up 6-0. With the lead and the ball in the red zone, Sonora coughed up the ball and Oakdale recovered it at their own 10-yard line to stop the potential Wildcats threat.
Oakdale’s new look offense consists of a new back and quarterback depth chart as well. The young offense took over with 1:25 left in the quarter, and running back Will Semone rushed for a 46-yard gain to give Oakdale the ball in Sonora territory. Oakdale starting quarterback Austin England’s first pass attempt was intercepted by cornerback David MacDonald. Oakdale’s defense returned the favor as linebacker Zac Thomas striped the ball away from Sonora, giving Oakdale the ball back on the next play.
Two plays later England tossed his second interception in as many pass attempts to continue the turnover-happy first half. Later that drive, Sonora faced a fourth-and-three and picked up four yards on a Nate Gookin run to the Oakdale 21-yard line with 8:26 remaining in the first half. A Sonora pass attempt to the right corner of the end zone was intercepted by Oakdale’s Sean Gingerich at the one yard line with 6:36 left in the half to stop the Wildcats once again in the red zone.
After the Mustangs went three and out, Sonora chewed up more of the clock on a long drive resulting in Harris’s second rushing touchdown of the night, this time from 17 yards out to give Sonora a 12-0 lead with 2:27 remaining in the first half. Looking to get on the board before the half, Oakdale’s offense took the field and began to move the ball towards midfield. On second down, England threw his third interception of the half into the arms of Kane Rodgers, who returned it to the house from 41 yards out. Sonora’s successful two point conversion gave the Wildcats a commanding 20-0 lead with 1:03 left in the half. That was the final pass attempt of the evening for England before being replaced by Marc Dickson, who played all of the second half under center for the Mustangs.
“Nothing was really said at halftime, we are not big on making second half adjustments, we just talked about who was going to step up in the second half, and find out who we are as a team in the second half,” said Mustangs head coach Trent Merzon. “We are going to find out who has character and what kind of a team we are, who was going step up. We had uncharacteristic turnovers and struggles on the offense, and we cannot give those up against good teams like Sonora.”
Oakdale’s defense did make halftime adjustments as linebacker Jace Krick made a heads up play on the ball with a scoop and score from 52 yards out to put Oakdale on the board to cut the lead down to 20-7 with 9:43 left in the third quarter.
“Everything seemed to fall into place on that play. The quarterback never got a clean grip on the ball and when it came loose I scooped it up and had some big blocking to help set the path for me,” said Krick.
Oakdale’s offense also turned things around in the second half, as Dickson tossed a touchdown pass. His scoring pass came with 4:31 left in the third quarter on a 31-yard catch and run to Makai Harris to trim the Sonora lead down to 20-13.
“I knew the corner was not covering me the way he should have been. My coaches recognized that and we gave it a shot, and it paid off,” said the speedy wide receiver of his touchdown reception.
Sonora answered back with a 66-yard touchdown pass catch and run to Rodgers less than a minute later for the final score of the evening.
Oakdale will host Crater of Oregon on Friday, Sept. 2 with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
A rough start to the season for the Mustang Colts as Oakdale fell to Sonora 31-13. The Colts went into the half down 18-13 but were held scoreless in the second half. Sophomore Justin Jericoff scored Oakdale’s final touchdown of the game with a six-yard run with less than a minute to go in the half. Oakdale will host Crater on Friday night with kickoff scheduled for 4:45 p.m.