STOCKTON — The East Union High Lancers helped their playoff seeding Friday with a 56-8 Valley Oak League victory at Weston Ranch.
They capitalized on Cougar turnovers in the third quarter, scoring three times within a two-minute span.
Two of those came on kickoff coverage.
“We didn’t kick the ball deep (to Weston Ranch) with respect to their dangerous returners,” said EU coach Willie Herrera, who, instead, had his team float the kicks to midfield.
Weston Ranch (0-6 VOL, 1-8 overall), playing in front of a festive homecoming crowd, was still in the game at half despite trailing 21-8.
After a scoreless opening quarter, East Union (4-2, 7-2) finally saw its offense get going in the second.
Raylen Carter went untouched on his 51-yard run.
On the Lancers’ next possession, Levi Huffman, who picked up 18 yards on a delayed draw and another 14 on a straight draw, powered his way for an 11-yard touchdown run.
East Union made it 21-0 when Huffman went up the middle on his 65-yard TD.
Shortly before the half, Cougars quarterback Amier Bowen engineered a scoring drive, hitting Larry Fairbanks on a 39-yard gain to the EU 5 and once again on a touchdown toss along with the two-point conversion pass.
Carter, in the third quarter, scored again, breaking loose on a 50-yard run while helping the Lancers pad their lead, 28-8.
The backbreaker for Weston Ranch occurred on consecutive kickoff recoveries by East Union.
After Devonta Scott’s touchdown from a yard out, Tony Martinez fielded the ensuing kickoff like a fly ball while on the run at about his 25. He kept on going all the way to the end zone.
The Lancers came up with the following kickoff in near similar fashion.
A few plays later, quarterback JoJo Espinoza cashed in on the miscue with a 15-yard run.
“That killed us,” Weston Ranch coach Seth Davis said of the special teams mishaps.
East Union relied primarily on its ground game. Huffman led the way with 212 yards on 10 carries. Carter had 127 yards on six touches.
For the Cougars, Bowen was 15 of 29 passing for 202 yards. He also rushed for 49 yards on 14 tries.
Fairbanks caught six passes for 100 yards.
Weston Ranch will close out the regular season at Sierra, and East Union will take on longtime rival Manteca High next week for the VOL’s third automatic playoff berth.