TRACY — East Union coach Willie Herrera wanted to keep the foot on the throttle with his team rolling in the fourth quarter of its critical Valley Oak League tilt at Kimball’s Don Nicholson Stadium.
The plan backfired, as the host Jaguars scored 20 unanswered points in the final 7 minutes, 15 seconds for a stunning 48-44 victory.
Running back Louie Pacheco put Kimball (1-1 VOL, 4-2 overall) up for good with a 16-yard scamper with 56 seconds to go, and 6-foot-6, 232-pound defensive end Kaleo Ballungay batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage seal it.
Pacheco finished with four touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Nicholas Coronado had his best game for Kimball.
“One big play after another,” Herrera said. “They have that capability.”
The Lancers (0-2, 3-3) didn’t make enough of them in crunch time to escape with a much-needed win. Herrera placed the blame on himself as the defensive play caller, second guessing decisions to be more aggressive than needed with the lead.
“It’s on me,” he said. “There are some calls tonight I wish I could have back that took guys out of position. The effort was there, but it was on me.”
He also credited Kimball, coached by Manteca High graduate and East Union employee Mike Kuhnlenz. His Jaguars twice had to battle back to take leads but were sparked by tide-turning plays such as Andre McDaniel’s interception late in the first quarter and Darren Jackson’s 85-yard kickoff-return touchdown that set off the 20-point flurry.
“My boys didn’t stop, and we had maybe 24 guys suit up today,” Kuhnlenz said. “There is no quit in them and I love them for it.”
Coronado helped lead the way, completing 31 of 41 passes for 328 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed nine times for 53 yards. His 19-yard scoring strike to Jaxen North, followed by the conversion toss to Ballungay, closed the Jags in, 44-42.
“He’s a stud,” Herrera said of Coronado. “They did a great job of getting the ball out quick and we just couldn’t get to him, and when we did he did a good job of using his feet and making plays.”
Coronado was playing with a sore Achilles, while Pacheco wore a cast to protect a broken thumb. Both were still productive — Pacheco finished with 81 yards on 12 rushes to go with 57 yards on five receptions.
McDaniel (nine receptions, 100 yards, TD), North (9-87-1) and Jackson (6-60) were also heavily featured in the passing game. Ballungay, who has committed to Cal as a tight end, was limited to two catches and 24 yards but made an impact defensively on the last play of the game.
Quarterback Eric Morales (4 of 11, 41 yards; six rushes, 43 yards) drove East Union into Kimball territory on the Lancers’ final series, which was highlighted by his 22-yard scramble. From the 26-yard line, he took a shot in the end zone but missed receiver Zelmar Veddar with 1 second remaining.
Then the long-armed Ballungay put his Pac-12 talents to use.
“Hey, he’s going to Cal for a reason,” Kuhnlenz said. “We were going to actually flip him on that play and put him on the other side because the quarterback was rolling that way, and Kaleo just said ‘Keep it, I’ll get there.’ Sure enough, he did. It’s awesome having a D1 guy.”
East Union relied on its running game to advance the line of scrimmage, pounding out 361 yards despite missing leading rusher Carlos Alvarez, who is out with a broken collarbone. The Lancers were minus five starters, including returning All-VOL first-team lineman Alex Yang.
Anthony Corrales carried the load, hammering his way to 167 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts. While he and Lane Cefalu (six rushes, 35 yards) did their work between the tackles, Tyler Diaz (7-88-2, two receptions, 32 yards) provided the outside speed. Diaz scored on the first play from scrimmage with a 66-yard dash.
“They did enough for us to win,” Herrera said of the offense. “We just couldn’t get the stops when we needed it and it’s on me. I gotta do a better job.”
East Union 14 8 15 7 — 44
Kimball 14 8 6 20 — 48
E—Tyler Diaz 66 run (Cameron Torres kick), 11:43.
E—Dennis Crum 2 run (Torres kick), 6:19.
K—Louie Pacheco 10 run (Andre McDaniel pass from Nicholas Coronado), 4:11.
K—McDaniel 34 pass from Coronado (run failed), 2:12.
K—Pacheco 4 run (Pacheco run), 10:35.
E—Diaz 5 run (Eric Morales run), 1:22.
K—Pacheco 3 run (run failed), 10:14.
E—Anthony Corrales 2 run (Torres kick), 7:44.
E—Mekhi Richardson 33 interception return (Ryland Torres pass from Morales), 6:15.
E—Corrales 8 run (Torres kick), 7:30.
K—Darren Jackson 85 kickoff return (run failed), 7:15.
K—Jaxen North 19 pass from Coronado, (Kaleo Ballungay pass from Coronado), 4:13.
K—Pacheco 16 run (pass failed), 0:51.