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Mustangs Throttle Sonora, Ready For Playoffs
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The distant beat of drums and the beckoning of thousands of onlookers to Sonora High’s spectacular Dunleavy Field made Oakdale High’s Valley Oak League finale seem like a scene from the British war movie Zulu on Friday.But this was no epic battle.Instead, Oakdale broke away from a 14-7 lead at the break with a dominating second half and 35-7 shellacking of the host Wildcats to ensure co-Valley Oak League championship honors.The game had all the swagger of a big VOL contest between two 8-1 programs, including two TV stations and a standing-room-only crowd in attendance.But Oakdale carried all the swagger behind bullying offensive linemen who paved the way to 397 rushing yards and over 100 ticks from three different ball carriers.“It was an awesome feeling, coming up here and showing what we can do,” Oakdale fullback Tim House (28 carries, 141 yards) said. “I give credit to the O-line, they were awesome tonight.”House ensured the success of Oakdale drives in the first half with a pair of tenacious bursts into the Sonora end zone from just a yard out. His second came on fourth down with 8 minutes, 2 seconds left to play in the opening half.“I know when we are at the (one yard-line) that they can’t stop me if I just get lower than them and run hard,” House said. “I know my linemen will block for me, so I just keep my head down and run through them.”Sonora bounced back to make it a close game as Sonora standout runner Dan Link found the end zone from a yard out with just 32 seconds to play in the second quarter.Oakdale broke it open in the third with a 19-yard jaunt by Devin Brooks (17 rushes, 152 yards) and a 17-yard scoring strike to House from quarterback Robert Stout (2 for 3, 25 yards).Blake Raham (nine carries, 105 yards) added an 18-yard finishing touch to pay dirt with 9:46 to play in the contest.“This is an unbelievable environment to play in, and it’s not easy to come up here,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “Our kids played awesome tonight, and played with tremendous heart, courage and desire.”The Oakdale defense played fantastic under pressure with Sonora leaning heavily on a runner (Link) who had gained over 100 yards in every previous contest with eight or more carries.The Mustangs held Link to a season low 65 yards on 14 rushes. Oakdale defensive backs Braydon Stephens and Nate Madsen each came down with interceptions in the win as well.Oakdale’s defensive unit will be tested Friday when the fifth-seeded Mustangs open the new-look Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs with Natomas (No. 12 seed) at home. The Nighthawks went 6-4 this year with a 4-1 showing in the Tri-County Conference. The team dropped a 21-7 loss to the top seeded D-III program (Inderkum) in last week’s TCC title game.Jakori Ford, a 5 foot, 10 inch, 170-pound junior, ran for 100 yards on five carries with two sacks on defense in the loss.Ford is just one of seven Natomas ball carriers who have eclipsed the 100-mark in total yards this season. Kashad Watson (5-10, 170) leads rushers with 656 yards and seven scores, but only had four yards against top-ranked Inderkum.It’s a nice challenge for Oakdale considering the team has proven they can pass (20 TDs through the air) and list an enrollment just 12 students less than Oakdale.Natomas would have normally played a division above Oakdale in the SJS playoffs, but the section’s new 16-team bracket decided by win totals has tossed large Sacramento area programs like Natomas, Inderkum, Del Campo, Benicia and Bella Vista into mix.Merzon admitted he is excited by the new format with quality teams, and said he knows Natomas to be athletic and very fast with tremendous athletic ability all over the field. He said Oakdale’s keys to winning are to take the turnover battle, the penalty battle and get off to a fast start.The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at The Corral. Box ScoreOakdale 35Sonora 7Oakdale 6 8 14 7 ¾ 35Sonora   0 7 0 0 ¾ 7First quarterOakdale - Tim House 1 run (Kyle Derby kick failed), :11.Second quarterOakdale - House 1 run (House run), 8:02.Sonora – Link 1 run (kick good), :32.Third quarterOakdale - Devin Brooks 19 run (Derby kick), 9:24.Oakdale – House 17 pass from Robert Stout (Derby kick). 6:34.Fourth quarterOakdale—Blake Raham 18 run (Derby kick), 9:46. Game Stats Oak                        SonFirst Downs                           21                           8 Total Net Yards                   422                         237Rushing Yards                      397                         173Passing Yards                       25                           64Turnovers                              1                              3Penalties-Yards                    1-10                        7-45