The top seeded Oakdale Mustangs survived an early 16-7 first quarter deficit, falling behind early against eighth seeded Vista del Lago 63-35 on Friday night. But once they got on track, nothing could slow down Oakdale, as they took a 63-35 victory off the field. The Mustangs hosted the Eagles in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs at The Corral.
Vista del Lago jumped out to an early 8-0 first quarter lead. Less than two minutes later OHS senior running back Bronson Harmon broke tackles and powered his way down the sidelines for a 62-yard rush to make it an 8-7 game with 7:36 remaining in the opening quarter. Vista extended their lead to 16-7 with 3:56 left in the first. Oakdale countered with the first of four rushing touchdowns by senior back Will Semone. He went berserk on the Eagles defense, rushing for a school record 371 yards on just 21 carries. With 1:42 remaining in the first quarter, Semone got his record setting night started with a 50-yard rushing touchdown to close the gap to 16-14. The Mustangs entered the second quarter down 19-14.
Oakdale’s explosive offense came to life in the second quarter as the Mustangs outscored the visitors 35-8 in the final 12 minutes of the first half. Semone got things going with a 23-yard touchdown, his second of the night. Oakdale’s defense made a statement throughout the night in the win. Matt Kjeldgaard recovered a fumble on a high snap at the Eagles 12 yard line.
“Once we (the defense) got settled in, it was hard to stop us. The defensive ends, the line, our secondary we all did a hell of a job tonight after the first quarter,” Kjeldgaard said.
Along with Kjeldgaard’s big recover, the defense was lifted by big plays from Michael Everett, Cullen Bearden, Zac Thomas and Zac Campbell.
“We just need to be more physical and jam the receivers. Next week Merced is coming to town and we will be ready for them. They better practice hard because we have something in store for them,” an excited Campbell said following the win.
The Mustangs’ backfield continued to punish the Eagles defense as junior Cameron Cherry scored his first of two touchdowns on the night on a 9-yard run with 7:59 left in the half to give Oakdale a 28-19 advantage. Cherry carried the ball 17 times and finished with 173 rushing yards to go with his two touchdowns. On the ensuing Mustangs drive, Semone made the Eagles pay for the third time in the half as he plowed his way through the Eagles defensive line and out ran their secondary for a 54-yard touchdown run to build up 35-19 lead with 5:31 remaining in the half. Vista stopped the run and scored a touchdown of their own to make it a 35-27 deficit with 3:51 left in the half. Two plays later, Cherry exploded for a 69-yard rushing touchdown giving Oakdale a commanding 42-27 advantage with 3:32 left to play in the half. With a short field to work with, the Mustangs scored on quarterback Marc Dickson’s 15-yard run to the end zone with just four seconds left in the half to take a 49-27 halftime lead. After first half fireworks from both offenses, the only score of the third quarter came on a Harmon 7-yard run with 6:34 left in the third making it 56-27.
Semone’s historic night came to a close on his 68-yard rushing touchdown with 10:49 left in the game making it 63-27.
“I would be nothing without them (my offensive line), they are definitely the anchor of our team,” said Semone. “That’s Oakdale football. Both teams are running up the field and it turns out to be a dog fight early, the only difference is that we didn’t give up. Oakdale never gives up.”
The Mustangs will host Merced on Friday night, Nov. 25 with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
Merced entered the playoffs as the fifth seed and has knocked off Beyer (44-22) and fourth seeded Del Campo (41-32) in their two wins.