STOCKTON — Scoring a ton of points always makes the offense feels good. A shutout makes the defense feel better, and a shutout preserved by non-starters is even better yet.
East Union was even better Friday night.
With a running-clock victory well in hand for the Lancers in Bear Creek’s homecoming at Podesto Field, the Bruins mounted a closing-minute drive against the East Union reserves, getting the ball down to the Lancers 4-yard line in the final seconds.
The Bruins called timeout to try to salvage some pride, but three times from inside the 4 they could not break the East Union wall and were kept out of the end zone in a 41-0 non-league shellacking by the Lancers. It’s their second straight shutout after beating Mountain House on the road last week.
“That stand at the end was with a bunch of our twos and threes out there,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said. “We didn’t have a one on the field. When they called that timeout at the end I went out onto the field and told the guys that we wanted to preserve the shutout and this is where we were going to find out what they were made of and they answered the call. Not one starter was out there and they did it out of pride.”
Quarterback Eric Morales was the spark plug for the Lancers (2-1), finding Zelmer Vedder on the second play of the game for a 68-yard touchdown pass. Morales (2 of 4 passing, 76 yards, touchdown, interception) scampered for 115 yards on four carries with scoring jaunts of 25 and 67 yards.
“Our line kept on opening up holes,” Morales said. “And they kept me protected the whole game.
“Z (Vedder) made a nice catch and kept running down the field and overall I think we did good.”
East Union scored twice in the first, second and third quarters with the two touchdowns in the third period – an 8-yard run by Dennis Crum (four carries, 80 yards) with 1:16 left in the quarter and an 11-yard burst by Brandon Thaxton a little over a minute later — set up by turnovers.
Tyler Diaz killed a potential scoring drive by the Bruins (0-3) with 1:37 left in the third which led to Crum’s touchdown and Martin Amezcua’s fumble recovery paved the way for Thaxton’s score.
“When the ball was thrown in my head I was telling myself, `Oh, please don’t drop this ball,’” Diaz said. “I wasn’t even worried about returning it — I just didn’t want to drop it.
“That stopped their momentum and got our team rolling again.”
Throughout the night, the Lancers defense made one big play after another. In the third quarter, Joey Aguirre (four tackles) made back-to-back sacks — the second one assisting Josh Grabowski (six tackles) — resulting in 16 negative yards for Bear Creek.
“I was just reading the guard,” Aguirre said. “I had to be quick with my hands and get past the blocker.
“Once you get past him it is all about wrapping up that quarterback.”
Josh Jiminez had eight tackles for East Union with Matthew Slight and Jonathan Casteneda adding six stops apiece.
Lane Cefalu (five carries, 47 yards) scored midway through the first quarter for the Lancers on a 5-yard run to make the score 14-0.
East Union gained 381 yards on 26 carries for an average of nearly 15 yards per carry and the Lancers have scored 100 points in their last two games.
“Our offensive staff has been doing a phenomenal job of preparing these guys,” Herrera said. “Every day, every coach on offense has been getting after it.
“If the parents, community and players could only see how much times these coaches put in that would be great and it is nice when it plays off. We have an important game next week in Johansen and they are 2-0. We have to be ready to go.”
East Union 14 14 13 0 – 41
Bear Creek 0 0 0 0 – 0
E – Zelmer Vedder 68 pass from Eric Morales (Cameron Torres kick), 11:21
E – Lane Cefalu 5 run (Torres kick), 7:06
E– Morales 25 run (Torres kick), 11:21
E – Morales 67 run (Torres kick), 31.2
E – Dennis Crum 8 run (Torres kick), 1:16
E – Brandon Thaxton 11 run (run fail), 0:9.3