East Union could have looked at the opening kickoff of its game against unbeaten Valley Oak League powerhouse Oakdale Friday night one of two ways.
As Marcus Northcutt dashed his way past the Lancer defenders and rumbled nearly 90 yards into the end zone for the game’s first score, it could have been chalked up to poor containment and put out of their mind as they lined up to take the ball on offense and attempted to match the feat.
But it also could have been looked at as a sign of things to come – something that would be proven true less than 12 minutes later after the Mustangs rolled to three more scores in the first quarter on their way to a 50-14 rout of the Lancers at Dino Cunial Field.
“Oakdale is a good team and there’s no taking anything away from them tonight. They came here ready to play and that’s what they did,” said East Union head coach Willie Herrera. “But it would have been really easy for our guys to go out there and just go through the motions and they didn’t do that – they played hard until the end.
“I think it’s important to cap off any game on a high note so you can carry that onto the next week against your next opponent.”
There wasn’t a whole lot that Oakdale (4-0, 7-0) could have done wrong during the first half of the game with junior quarterback Spencer Thomas at the helm. While he only threw nine passes, he connected on seven of them and three went for touchdowns – all of which came in the game’s first two quarters.
Northcutt, who found paydirt on the ground in the second quarter from 3 yards out, hauled in three of those passes for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He finished the night with four scores in all.
The Lancers (1-3, 1-6) sputtered early offensively and only managed to record three first downs in the first half. Each of their possessions in that time frame ended with a punt. It wasn’t until the third quarter that Joe Menzel finally hooked up with an open TJ Williams for a 77-yard touchdown strike that put them on the board.
That one play eclipsed their total offense up to that point.
As time winded down, however, backup quarterback Jack Zellar managed to rush for more yards in the fourth quarter than the team collectively accrued in the previous three. He helped put East Union in position to score its second touchdown of the game – a 6-yard scamper by Jeremiah Preston.
While some might discredit the offensive surge that the Lancers showed late in the game to what he described as “mop-up time”, Herrera felt that it showed a team that wasn’t giving up regardless of what the scoreboard said.
“Each week when we go into practice to get ready for an opponent we need to have something that we can build on, and we gave ourselves something to build on here tonight,” he said. “We didn’t execute very well and we didn’t do our jobs the way we should have, but we also showed that we refuse to give up.”