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OHS Ponies Saddle Up; Enjoy 2-0 Season Start
Delivering a stiff arm to the Tigers defender was Ponies running back Leonel Ayala, 11. He rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on the evening. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

Week two of the freshman football campaign on Thursday evening ended with a victory. Oakdale’s freshmen, the Ponies, defeated the visiting Los Banos Tigers 34-14 to improve to 2-0. For the second consecutive week; a strong running game, brilliant special teams play and an alert defensive attack helped corral a Ponies victory.

Oakdale struck first with a 10 play, 65 yard drive that ended on a five yard rushing touchdown by Cole Niemi to give Oakdale a 7-0 advantage with 6:25 left in the first quarter. It would be the lone score of the quarter.

Ponies running back Leonel Ayala extended the team’s lead on a 17 yard rushing score to give Oakdale a 14-0 lead with 8:40 remaining in the half. Oakdale’s next possession featured quarterback Steven Morris complete a 23 yard pass to Peyton Bradford to the two yard line. On the next play, Bradford carried it in for the score giving Oakdale a commanding 21-0 lead with 3:14 left in the half.

Oakdale’s defense held the Tigers to a total of negative-16 yards in the first half.

“Our defense played great tonight. The coaching staff worked hard at it this week, and the kids applied that to tonight’s game, especially in the first half,” Ponies head coach Rod Long said.

Los Banos would strike late in the third on a 77 yard catch and run with 4:28 left in the quarter to put them on the board, but would miss the extra point attempt making it 21-6. Oakdale countered with a score of their own as Jackson Ruvalcaba rushed in from four yards out making the score 27-6 with 18 seconds remaining in the third.

The fourth quarter saw each team score as Los Banos cashed in on a 13 yard rushing play, with a successful two point conversion attempt midway through the fourth to make it 27-14. Oakdale answered back with Ayala’s second score of the evening on a 33 yard rush with 4:08 left to go for the final score of the game. Ayala finished with 134 rushing yards on 18 carries.

“We played for the second straight week without a turnover and at this level that is almost unheard of. That speaks volumes to everyone’s hard work so far,” said Long. “It is early, obviously, and heading into the bye week we will work on a few things.”

The Ponies (2-0) are on a bye week this week and return to The Corral on Thursday, Sept. 15 when they host Campolindo. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.