Senior Night 2015 was a gridiron success for the Mustangs. Oakdale clicked on all cylinders during the team’s 45-14 dismantling of the visiting Manteca Buffaloes. The Mustangs (9-0 overall, 6-0 VOL) got things rolling defensively as they made a statement early in the first quarter. With the Buffaloes driving in Oakdale territory, Manteca converted on a fourth-and-two from the 27 yard line. On third-and-eight Manteca attempted a pass in the end zone but it fell incomplete. Manteca went for it on fourth down but Oakdale senior Ben Solario matched the Buffalo wide receiver step for step and deflected the pass in the end zone, giving Oakdale the ball on downs.
Mustang senior fullback Brad Aquino later scored on a two-yard rush to give Oakdale a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. With 47 seconds left in the opening quarter, Manteca appeared to have tied the game on a 41 yard rush but lost the ball at the goal line and it was recovered by Oakdale.
Oakdale’s rushing attack continued to frustrate the Buffaloes defense when Austin Burke burst through the defensive line and the secondary on an 84-yard rushing touchdown with 11:46 left in the half to give Oakdale a 14-0 lead. Manteca cut the lead in half on an 84-yard catch and run with 10:47 remaining in the half.
Along with Solario, Oakdale’s Cullen Bearden, Justin Jacobson, Michael Everett, Jace Krick, Lane Trapp, Robby Bagley, Louis Marsella and Matt Kjeldgaard all made key plays on the defensive side of the ball. Bearden, who totaled three sacks in the game, recorded back-to-back sacks in the second quarter. Manteca looked to tie the game at 14, as they were driving in Oakdale territory again, but Bearden had sacks on third and fourth down to give Oakdale back possession of the ball. Aquino and the offense marched down the field and Aquino found the end zone for the second time in the game on a three-yard rush giving Oakdale a 21-7 advantage. Two plays later, Trapp intercepted the ball on a Manteca deep pass attempt. Oakdale’s offense wasted little time as Aquino found the end zone for the third time crossing the goal line on a four-yard carry with 17 seconds left in the half. The Mustangs then recovered a fumble by Manteca at the Manteca 36 yard line with 12 seconds remaining in the half. Sure-footed Trapp connected on a 39-yard field goal as time expired to boost the Mustangs lead to 31-7 at the half.
Oakdale came out of the locker room just as dominant as they left the field from the first half. Just as Aquino was a rushing force to be reckoned with in the first half, Burke was the Mustangs’ workhorse in the second. Only 1:11 into the third quarter, Burke found the end zone on a four yard rush advancing Oakdale’s advantage to 38-7. Bearden got to the quarterback again on Manteca’s fourth and 41 attempt. Manteca went three and out on their next possession setting up a punt. A bad snap handled by the punter rushed the attempt and shanked the ball for a total of 12 yards. Burke scored the Mustangs final touchdown on that possession from 36 yards out bringing the lead to 45-7 with 6:41 remaining in the third.
Manteca’s luck continued to go from bad to worse when Oakdale’s Clay Harden recovered a loose ball at Manteca’s 22 yard line with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
“The offensive line did a great job opening up holes for us tonight. Everybody did their jobs tonight and that was the difference in the game,” said Burke, who rushed for a total of 139 yards on six carries.
With the win, Oakdale gears up for the much anticipated season finale at Central Catholic. The Mustangs and Raiders are both undefeated, and will be facing off for the Valley Oak League title in Modesto on Friday Nov. 6.
Head coach Trent Merzon said he was glad to see his players enjoy a victory on their home field for the Senior Night, focusing on the win over the Buffaloes, with this week being enough time to worry about Central.
“We will worry about tonight, tonight and enjoy it. Moments like tonight, don’t happen very often so we will worry about down the road, down the road. I wanted tonight to be about them and Manteca,” said Merzon.