CERES — Jack Weaver rolled right, twirled away from Ceres linebacker Andrew Rosien-Gibson and darted toward the left sideline.
Rosien-Gibson continued his pursuit and lost his footing as East Union’s slippery signal caller reversed directions again. Weaver finally set his feet, spotting Matthew Pilkay open in the left corner of the end zone before lofting a perfect pass to his target as Ceres defensive back Daniel Hadwick tried in vain to knock it down with a vertical leap.
Pilkay held on as he was hit by free safety Austin Crain, completing a wild 16-yard pass play with time expiring in the first half.
It was exactly the way it was drawn up.
The momentum continued to build in their favor in a dominant second half, and East Union steamrolled its way to a 40-7 season-opening win.
“Initially, our coaches weren’t exactly happy about it because it was a rollout and I stopped my feet and popped my hips — you’re not supposed to do that on rollouts,” Weaver said. “Instincts just kicked in and I had to make a play.”
Weaver outdueled Ceres standout Chris Lubinsky (21 of 49, 180 yards, TD), completing 8 of 13 passes for 151 yards to go with 12 rushes, 68 yards and two touchdown scampers.
Shortly before the wild sequence that closed the half, Lubinsky connected with Crain for a 3-yard touchdown that gave the Bulldogs (0-2) their only lead at 7-6.
East Union got the ball back on Ceres’ 16-yard line with 2 seconds remaining.
Weaver, of course, did it the hard way. The play lasted about 20 seconds and covered a lot more yards than was needed.
“That’s one of the gifts that Jack has,” East Union coach Willie Herrera said. “It drives us nuts, but because of that and his ability we were able to make that play. Definitely a good job by him keeping it alive and making something happen. Playmakers make plays.
“It’s a different game if we don’t end that half with a touchdown,” Herrera added.
Ruben Gallegos set up the big play with one of his own. It was his 47-yard return on Ceres’ squib kick that set the stage for Weaver and Pilkay.
“The first thing I did in the locker room was walk over to him and say, ‘That doesn’t happen without you,’” Weaver said. “That was a huge play.”
It was one of many on a night in which many Lancers shined. Aside from Weaver, East Union had nine different ball carriers that combined for 276 yards. Miguel Lopez had the most touches, finishing with 78 yards on 12 attempts. Jake Harries (three rushes, 25 yards; two catches, 29 yards) and Isaiah Sholund (six carries, 32 yards) each scored on 1-yard runs, and Patrick Sholund put the finishing touches on a one-sided second half with a 35-yard jaunt into the end zone with 1:41 left in the game.
In the passing game, Weaver hit six different receivers with Pilkay leading the way (two catches, 67 yards). Weaver hooked up with Pilkay for a 46-yard gain on East Union’s first play from scrimmage.
“We have three or four backs, three or four wings, three or four receivers — we’re just stacked,” Weaver said. “We have plenty of depth and there’s no falloff.”
East Union did fumble six times and lost two of them, including one inside the Ceres 5 during the third quarter.
The Lancers also struggled with penalties, especially in the first half when they were flagged eight times. Ceres’ scoring drive was aided by three 15-yard penalties. The Bulldogs finished with 259 yards of offense but only 98 in the second half.
“It’s nice to come out of that (with a win) with the mistakes we made,” Herrera said. “Our guys are mentally tough. We’re got it done, but we definitely have to clean some things up.”