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Gordon helps EU stave off Cougar comeback
Weston Ranch High’s Anthony Nunez and East Union’s Ryan Ward battle for the ball at Dino Cunial Field Friday. For additional photos, visit . - photo by Photo by CHRIS LEONARD
East Union High kept pace in the Valley Oak League race, but needed a big play by Teejay Gordon to secure the hard-fought 31-21 win over Weston Ranch at Dino Cunial Field.

The winless Cougars (0-3, 0-6) provided a second-half scare, threatening twice at either tying or going ahead.

But they were done in by a missed field goal and an interception in the end zone.

The Lancers appeared bent on milking the clock late in the game, only to have Gordon secure the win with a 38-yard touchdown run.

“Our plan (at that point) was to keep the ball in Teejay’s hand,” said East Union coach Mike James said.

Not a bad plan considering that Gordon had a game-high 115 rushing yards and was 13 of 16 passing for 120 yards.

James had concerns whether his team could rebound from last week’s tough loss at Sierra.

East Union (2-1, 5-1) answered some of those concerns early on as linebacker Tyler Hardesty recovered a fumble at his 19. Weston Ranch, behind the running of Melvin Allen, Tremain Buntun and Cameron Turner, had marched the ball into Lancer territory on its opening possession.

From there, East Union’s offensive line opened up a gaping hole for running back Steven Gigli, who raced 55 yards to the Cougar 12, scoring on the very next play.

In the second quarter, Gordon took to the air, hitting Robert Dominguez and Robert Vaughn, setting up Gigli’s 10-yard touchdown run.

Gigli had 107 yards on 12 carries.

Down 14-0, Weston Ranch scored at 4:04 mark of the second quarter on Melvin Allen’s 1-yard run. He helped make the play possible by hauling in a pass from quarterback E.J. Allen.

The Lancers answered back on Gordon’s 71-yard scoring run. His play-action move caught the Cougars off guard.

Weston Ranch bounced back, with quarterback Allen connecting with Buntun on a 64-yard pass play to the EU 20. Turner’s 6-yard touchdown run narrowed the gap, 21-13.

Ryanh Somphithack’s kickoff return to midfield gave the Lancers in good field position shortly before halftime.

Gordon’s 17-yard toss to T.J. Williams set up the 46-yard field by Alex Dias, giving East Union a 24-13 lead at the intermission.

Weston Ranch made some second-half adjustments.

“We had to cut down on our mistakes,” Cougar coach Mike Hale said.

His team did just that, recovering a Lancer fumble, leading to Melvin Allen’s 3-yard scoring run. He also ran in the two-point conversion to make it 24-21. Anthony Nunez had the big play, nearly scoring on the 20-yard pass play.

Weston Ranch had a golden opportunity on a poor punt, advancing the ball deep into EU territory on Turner’s 17-yard reception coupled with a personal foul penalty on the play.

The Lancers dodged a bullet when the field goal try just missed.

Melvin Allen recovered a fumble, giving the Cougars yet another chance.

Weston Ranch again advanced the ball deep into East Union territory but was denied on Dylan Meneses’ interception in the end zone.

The Lancers sealed the deal on Gordon’s touchdown in the final minute.

“Weston Ranch is very competitive,” James said. “(The Cougars’) inside running is second to none.”

“They also have team speed that’s second to none.”

For Hale, the game was another tough loss.

“We had our chances but we didn’t take advantage of them,” he said.