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EU holds off Kimball comeback to keep playoff prospect afloat
Lancers’s TJ Williams can’t hold on to the slippery pass Friday in VOL action against Kimball High. - photo by HIME ROMERO
East Union High kept hope alive on Friday.

Against Kimball, the Lancers showed their fortitude at Dino Cunial Field, scoring twice in the final six minutes while rolling to a 40-26 Valley Oak League win.

In the process, East Union (3-2, 6-2) inched closer toward securing its first post-season berth in 18 years. But coach Mike James said his team would rather win out in its final games.

“We’ll see what adjustments we have to make (after Kimball) and go from there,” he added.

Kimball (0-5, 0-8) proved to be a tougher team than its record might indicate.

The Jaguars are loaded with promising juniors and sophomores led by Tyler Souza, who enjoyed a game-high 153 yards on 12 carries while scoring twice on runs of 23- and 76- yards.

The latter put a scare in the Lancers, who were locked in a 26-26 tie after quarterback Zack Johnson scored the two-point conversion run at the 9:05 mark in the fourth quarter.

 East Union turned to quarterback Teejay Gordon, who delivered the toss to Robert Vaughn. From there, the 6-0 senior wide receiver turned the mid-range reception into a 58-yard scoring play to put the Lancers ahead.

The Jaguars was still left with time to muster up another drive.

But the East Union defense responded, with Ryan Ward, Jose Manzano, Joseph Daigle and Ryanh Somphithack making big plays down the stretch.

“Ryanh really came up big for us, especially in the second half,” James said.

Ward also registered a couple hard-hitting stops before halftime including a 49-yard interception to close out the second quarter.

The Lancers took advantage of a turnover, with Brian Calvillo coming up with the fumble following a blocked punt.

 From there, East Union went to the air. Gordon completed passes to Steven Gigli and Vaughn, who hauled in the 16-yard scoring strike at the 5:16 mark in the first quarter.

John Villalobos’ extra point made it 7-0, Lancers.

The Jaguars answered back, relying on their ground attack spearheaded by Souza, Evan Owens, William Snell, Zack Johnson and Souza.

Souza’s 23-yard run in the second quarter kept Kimball close, 7-6.

East Union took advantage of another turnover midway through the second quarter, recovering a fumble deep in Jaguar territory.

Gigli’s 5-yard touchdown run coupled with the Villalobos PAT kick propelled the Lancers to a 14-6 advantage.

 Kimball opened the second half, driving 66 yards on seven plays. Johnson, who set up the score with his 38-yard pass play to Souza, had a 15-yard touchdown run to keep the game close.

East Union responded with Dylan Meneses hauling in the 26-yard scoring strike from Gordon.

The Lancers continued to experience trouble stopping the Jaguars. Johnson, for example, turned a third-and-15-yard situation into an 81-yard touchdown run.

East Union secured the victory in the fourth quarter on Vaughn’s two touchdown grabs and Gigli’s two-point PAT pass from Gordon.

“Kimball was strong defending the run, forcing us to throw the ball move,” said James, who’s looking forward to next week’s VOL battle at Sonora.