Who wants to host these Mustangs now?
In a compelling first round Sac-Joaquin Section playoff showdown, Oakdale went into Patterson, a proud city of palm trees and open pastures, and took out one of the school’s best teams in history with a tense four-quarter effort, and now take their road show to #5 Sacramento to face the high-flying Dragons of Sac High on Saturday, Nov. 23.
A week ago, Patterson, after having the Western Athletic Conference league title taken away by the second half shutdown courtesy of the Raiders of Central Catholic, still drew a top four seed in Division III playoffs to reward its 9-1 season, but then unlucky #13 came into town in the form of Valley Oak League powerhouse Oakdale and stopped it short.
The Mustangs, after hitting the scoreboard first and somehow making it to halftime tied at seven after a second quarter of controversial officiating calls, relied on its defense in the second half. Tanner Morgan came away with a fumble recovery, Christian Johnson had a big pick and Kyle Osborne would have broken the game open if his near interception return for a touchdown wasn’t called back by penalty.
The Tigers responded quickly once Oakdale went up by two touchdowns, quarterback Damien Paulo whipping short to intermediate passes across the field before cutting the score to seven with a beautiful pass down the sideline to get the Tigers back in the game. But as the fourth quarter’s last ten minutes wound down, the Mustangs held and contained until senior Bailey Dryden, taking the handoff and only needing a first down, went full tilt for the second time in the game, running up the gut and into a pile of Patterson players, before shaking them off his back and barreling another 50 yards to break Patterson’s spirit.
Jordan Levu, the 6-2, 192-pound three sports Tiger standout who plays a mean defensive end in the fall, strong-armed Oakdale quarterback Dillon Tamburrino for two sacks and nearly decleated him on several others, but with the last whistle blown, the powerful Levu was sobbing one-kneed like many of the Tigers, in a makeshift circle as their coaching staff drilled home messages to a team that faded in the first round of what was supposed to be a deep playoff run. On the Oakdale sideline, meanwhile, it was time for a first round celebration and a sigh of satisfaction, with the knowledge that there is more work to be done.
The Mustangs only scored in two quarters Friday night, but when crunch time kicked in, the Mustangs played it coolest. It came down to time management and quality control for the Mustang staff, winning the game within the game against a Patterson team that battled to make a comeback but was contained by the powerful Oakdale defense.
Offensively, Brock Whiting put the Mustangs up 13-7, then Darus Nelson gave the Mustangs their biggest lead of the game at 21-7 when he scored on a breakaway run and immediately converted the two-point play. Tamburrino managed the offense efficiently at the end as the Mustangs pushed the pile, made consecutive stops and ultimately outlasted an exasperated Patterson team perhaps feeling the playoff pressure.
Now it’s the second round, #5 Sacramento hosting #13 Oakdale. The Dragons average just over 300 yards passing per game, 200 yards rushing with 75 total touchdowns on the year. Paul Doherty’s 9-2 Dragons are led by sophomore quarterback Caden Voges, who has thrown for 39 touchdowns with 20 interceptions and comes into the contest against Oakdale with a QB rating of 111. Voges has produced 3309 total yards, good for 215 completions on 334 attempts while also putting in 605 yards rushing on the year, but seems susceptible in the stat sheet particularly against a sure-handed Mustangs secondary.
After airing it out early in the year, the Sac High staff has limited Voges to under 20 attempts in his last five games perhaps wary of the seven interceptions he has thrown in the last four wins alone, not to mention the four picks he threw in a season opening loss against Consumes Oaks. Vogel’s main target is 6-3 wide receiver Damen Wheeler who has 16 touchdowns on the year, mostly coming in double coverage, averaging nearly 20 yards a catch and posting 1288 receiving yards. Another threat on the Dragon offense is Kyree Stephens who has 944 receiving yards on the year and on defense the Dragons are led by 5-11, 192 pound junior L. Powell who has 79 solo tackles on the year, 34 for a loss, 18 sacks and seven quarterback hurries.
Oakdale goes in as the underdog as far as the seeding goes, but the Mustangs know enough to pay no attention to what the standings say … the real proof is on the gridiron and the squad has no intention of ending its season on Saturday.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. in Sacramento.