A crowd of Oakdale defenders crashed past Lathrop offensive linemen and blocked the short field goal, celebrating as the ball bounced up field to end the Spartans’ best shot at appearing on the scoreboard.
By the time Oakdale defenders realized the ball was live, they could only jump onto the ball to secure possession in the final moments of the first quarter. A quick scoop would have been a sure defensive score.
The awkward scene, buffered by the fact Oakdale hadn’t yet scored either, was a lasting memory from a strange night of Valley Oak League football that saw an un-published early start, a new offensive attack from the Mustangs and a curious running clock in the third quarter.
The strange happenings mattered little after a 42-0 Oakdale win during Lathrop’s Friday Homecoming and preservation of Oakdale’s spotless conference record. Oakdale (3-0 VOL, 5-1 overall) hosts East Union on Friday.
Afterwards, Oakdale football coach Trent Merzon refused to comment about the game when questioned by The Leader.
Oakdale had reached the scoreboard less than three minutes into the second quarter after a fourth-down conversion run by Nikk Ryan set up Marcus Northcutt for an eight-yard jaunt to pay dirt.
DeWayne Finney intercepted Lathrop’s Preston Rizo on the ensuing drive and scampered 50 yards for a touchdown. Tanner Morgan intercepted Rizo on the next possession and saw Ryan haul in a 15-yard pass from Spencer Thomas for a 21-0 Oakdale lead.
When C.J. Picinich swallowed a Lathrop runner behind the line on a third-down screen pass, it gave Oakdale the opportunity for a good Northcutt punt return to the Lathrop 31. Northcutt ultimately dashed in from 10 yards out with 1:27 to play and Lathrop ran out the clock to end the half.
Oakdale showcased an interesting offensive formation to start the second half, when Mustang freshman Adam Olsen engineered a six-play scoring drive from a spread formation. The look featured Finney and defensive back Eddie Machado lined up to the left as receivers while Thomas and Austin were wide right. Behind the five-man offensive line in shotgun was Olsen, with Northcutt beside him.
“I was told I was going to run a little spread that we had set up for us a couple days ago,” Olsen said. “We weren’t going to pass very much, but I was going to be able to use my feet and make plays.
“I was very excited, emotional and very nervous. Once I got going I kind of settled in.”
Behind this formation Oakdale featured fly handoffs to Thomas and Machado, keepers by Olsen, and passes from Olsen to both Thomas and Machado (Olsen was 2 for 2 for 34 yards). When Olsen broke into the end zone on a 10-yard keeper with 8:19 to play in the third (a 35-0 lead) the game suddenly broke into a running clock.
When asked about the clock, the official said it was only a fourth quarter rule and signaled for the clock to stop. His attempts were ignored. The ensuing kick was made at the 7:26 mark and the game would continue on a running clock throughout.
Oakdale backup quarterback Dillon Tamburrino took control of Oakdale’s next drive and showcased a healthy balance of Max Stevens and Bailey Dryden as the second team Oakdale offense rolled 56 yards on nine plays. The last was a seven yard score by Stevens, his first of a productive season at wingback.
“It felt good to finally score,” Stevens admitted. “It was definitely the most work I have got all year, and it felt great.”
The junior varsity Mustangs also experienced a third quarter running clock, and bullied to a 36-6 win on 34 offensive plays.
C.J. Domingo led the way with a touchdown run and touchdown reception. He was put in position to score by the steady work of Frankie Trent (nine rushes, 85 yards, two touchdowns) and Kevin Corral (seven rushes, 127 yards, touchdown).
“Basically all of our backs carried between seven and nine times,” Oakdale coach Dave Hill said. “We planned on getting everyone a lot of playing time, but that running clock started early and just kept going.
“Everyone still got to play.”
Coach Hill said the Mustangs have shown much improvement on finishing plays, and he looks to see more of that in every play, going forward.
Lane Trapp was perfect on extra points and watched Isaac Medrano take a fake punt 60 yards for a touchdown as Oakdale bested Lathrop 42-12 at home on Oct. 4.
The offensive line (Eric Jackson, Zac Cordoza, Alex Pena, Eric Amador and Pedro Rodriguez) continued their recent string of good play to open holes for a 60 yard touchdown run from Darus Nelson and keep defenders at bay during two Moreno touchdown passes (40 yards to Robert Bagley and 15 yards to Bobby DePuy).
Nelson also returned an interception 30 yards for a score in the win.