The Lancers showed plenty of fight Thursday against Oakdale.
They kept it close, overcoming a rough start and rallying for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.
In the end, the Mustangs prevailed once again, claiming a 35-27 Valley Oak League victory over East Union High at Dino Cunial Field.
“I was proud of the way they battled back,” said Willie Herrera, coach of the Lancers (1-2). “Our kids fought so hard.”
EU junior quarterback Luke Weaver completed 12 of his 19 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
Oakdale (3-0) relied on its ground game, tallying 337 yards on 61 carries. Zeke Saffarr (124 yards on 24 carries, one touchdown), Yahir Ayala (109 yards on 11 pops, two touchdowns) and Kevin Camelin (74 yards on 11 tries) led the rushing attack.
Herrera’s big concern this season has been turnovers.
His team continued that trend by coughing up the ball twice in the first two possessions.
The second turnover set up the Mustangs opening score.
Ayala found a seam up the middle on his 21-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter.
Oakdale put behind a fumble soon after as quarterback Jackson Holt connected with one of his favorite scoring targets in Jack Kjeldgaard, who hauled in an 18-yard scoring strike to give his team a 14-0 lead early in the second.
The Lancers created their own break by successfully sniffing out a fake punt. Weaver then found Zelmar Vedder on a short toss — the speedy 6-2 senior wide receiver found his footing and raced to the end zone to complete the 29-yard pass play will under two minutes left in the half.
The Mustangs near-safety call on the ensuing kickoff was overturned. They made EU pay by marching the ball on the Lancers 9.
With 6.7 seconds remaining in the second quarter, quarterback Jackson Holt connected with Dion Suarez to give his team a 20-7 halftime advantage.
The Lancers came out swinging in the second half. Weaver hit Bryan Howe on an 8-yard TD toss to close the gap early in the third, 20-13.
Oakdale turned to its running game, with Kevin Camelin teaming up with Saffarr to advance the ball into EU territory. Saffarr added the scoring punch to up the lead late in the third, 27-13.
The Lancers answered back with Weaver avoiding the rush and finding Kainoa Ontai for the 47-yard scoring bomb in the fourth.
East Union was back to within striking distance, trailing 27-19.
Camelin had another big run with 15 yards tacked on to the play by EU penalty. Ayala’s second TD — a 20-yard burst up the middle followed by his two-point conversion run — put Oakdale back up, 35-19.
The Lancers charged back once again with Weaver tossing a 9-yard touchdown pass for his 6-2 target, Dylan Lee, to haul in over the shorter defenders. Lane Cefalu powered in the two-point conversion to keep his team within striking distance.
The Mustangs buckled down on defense and held on for the win.
East Union’s defense managed several turnovers including interceptions by Jonathan Castaneda and Gannon Anderson.
Next up for the Lancers is a Saturday afternoon VOL game against visiting Weston Ranch.
Oakdale 7 13 6 7 — 35
East Union 0 7 6 14 — 27
O — Yahir Ayala 21 run (Kevin Camelin kick), 6:59
O — Jack Kjeldgaard 18 pass from Jackson Holt (Camelin kick), 11:03.
E — Zelmar Vedder 29 pass from Luke Weaver (Miguel Martin Garcia kick), 1:14.
O — Dion Suarez 9 pass from Holt (kick failed), 0:06.7.
E — Bryan Howe 8 pass from Weaver (kick failed), 7:20.
O — Zeke Saffarr 9 run (Camelin kick), 0:30.0.
E — Kainoa Ontai 47 pass from Weaver (pass failed), 10:39.
O — Ayala 20 run (Ayala run), 7:27.
E — Dylan Lee 9 pass from Weaver (Lane Cefalu run), 6:32.