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Hall’s TD return, Daniels’ four scores lead the way

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East Union's Jared Carden leaps for a catch attempt in front of Sierra cornerback Adrian Valencia.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED October 3, 2009 2:36 a.m.
Sierra High’s Anthony Hall had never played free safety before Friday’s crosstown clash with host East Union and its vaunted aerial attack.

But it was he who dealt the deflating blow.

Hall returned an interception 38 yards with 7:38 left in the third quarter, and his Timberwolves rolled to a 46-12 victory at Dino Cunial Field to open the Valley Oak League season.

Hall’s big runback extended Sierra’s lead to 33-6 at the time, but East Union (2-2) had momentum on its side after shutting out the Timberwolves in the second quarter and holding them to three plays on their opening drive of the third.

Running back Jarrod Daniels did the rest from scrimmage for undefeated Sierra, piling up 136 yards and four touchdowns on 18 touches.

“The coaches prepared us pretty well,” Hall said. “I have confidence in my teammates and I know they have my back, so I wasn’t concerned.”

A variety of mistakes killed the Lancers at the start.

Sierra put up the game’s first points without playing a down on offense after the ball sailed over East Union punter Teejay Gordon on a bad snap and rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety.

The Lancers shot themselves again with a late-hit penalty on the ensuing kickoff, setting Sierra up on the Lancer 22. Three plays later, quarterback Jonathan Davis scored on a 7-yard dash up the middle.

Daniels rushed in his first two touchdowns from 5 and 8 yards out after that. The second score was set up by a fumble recovery from Stephen Thayer on a kickoff, again giving Sierra a short field to work with.

And just like that, the Timberwolves were up 23-0 with still 5:12 left in the first quarter.

“They blitzed us right out of the gates,” East Union coach Mike James said. “They took it to us and we weren’t ready to go. We wanted this game really bad and prepared for it real well.

“The turnovers early, the (bad) snap hurt us. We just didn’t recover.”

East Union, to its credit, showed great resiliency in beating Sierra 6-0 in the second quarter. Quarterback Dennis Johnson (13-of-22, 179 yards) connected with a wide-open Jared Carden for a 75-yard touchdown with 1:31 to go in the first half.

Sierra got another big break after going three-and-out to start the second half. A muffed punt, recovered by Udoka Uwakwe, inside the East Union 10 led to Hall’s 26-yard field goal. It was all Sierra from there.

“Coach (Jeff Harbison) got in our face a little bit because we slacked off,” Daniels said. “That (23-6 lead) doesn’t mean it’s over.

“We just had to step it up and play the full four quarters and execute. They’re a good team and they definitely improved a lot, so we didn’t underestimate them.”

Sierra’s defense was outstanding save for the long touchdown pass.

Gordon, who also starts at tailback, came into the contest with 311 rushing yards but was held to minus 17 until a 30-yard scamper on the game’s final play put him in the black. The Lancers were limited to just 12 yards total on the ground.

Sierra also did a better job of getting to Johnson on pass plays in the second half, as linebackers Cody Dias, Alex Nuanez, John Perez, T.J. Sataua and defensive lineman Chris Membrano were all in on a sack.

“We changed our defensive scheme a little bit, added some extra blitzes to pressure the quarterback and I thought it worked out pretty well for us,” Harbison said.
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