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TWolves offense sputters in battle of 2009 co-champions
SHS OHS11-9-25-10
Sierra High’s Harold Wright breaks for positive yardsge in the Timberwolves’ 33-15 loss to Oakdale Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
The beginning of the end started when the Oakdale Mustangs opened the second half at their own 10-yard line and methodically chewed up nearly the entire third quarter, marching 90 yards for an eventual A.C. Brown touchdown that stripped Sierra High of a chance at victory in a 33-15 defeat Friday at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium.

Sierra came into its Valley Oak League opener with its hands full, hosting an Oakdale program that has been intertwined heavily with the Timberwolves over the past few seasons. Sierra (0-1 VOL, 1-3 overall) trailed 17-7 at halftime, but made its climb even steeper with a defensive let down to open the third quarter.

“We had a lot of blown opportunities out there,” Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison said. “I don’t know if that drive deflated our team, but it showed a great example of the blown opportunities I’m talking about. We had them third-and-long on a couple of instances and they come and make plays.

“We had some mental breakdowns that truly cost us tonight.”

The 22-play, 10 minute, 18 second drive was nothing short of back-breaking. Oakdale got away from the sweeping, misdirection play calling they used for 240 first-half yards, and reverted back to the smash-mouth, bruising running style that has been Mustangs foundation for years.

A.C. Brown had seven carries on the drive and Marcus Hernandez had six, taking turns pounding into the midsection of the Timberwolves’ defense.

“Our defense is just going to have to step it up,” Sierra senior Stephen Thayer said. “Technically, everything was all up the middle. In each of the four weeks that we have played teams have been successful running up the middle.

“They just gain yards on us; we need to figure out something that will bring someone downhill to help give us an advantage in there.”

The Timberwolves went three-and-out in the ensuing drive, while Oakdale took nine plays to get a 33-yard field goal to up Sierra’s deficit to 26-7. Anthony Cota got loose from a 60-plus yard kickoff return, setting up a four-yard scoring scamper to pull Sierra to within two scores.

Only the damage the third-quarter drive did to the clock began to catch up with Sierra, leaving the squad less than five minutes to mount a furious comeback. It proved impossible.

Sierra finished the game with a miniscule 54 yards rushing to go along with 141 yards passing. Four turnovers clearly didn’t assist Sierra’s task, giving an already potent Oakdale offense better field position and more opportunities than they would need.

Oakdale took advantage of prime field position after a squandered on-side kick try, scoring in five plays with an 18-yard Brown run to seal the deal. Sierra quarterback Adrian Valencia would get picked off twice in the game’s final four minutes, putting unbearable pressure on the Timberwolves for the remainder of the season.

“We have no choice, we are going to have to play up to the kids’ potential,” Harbison said. “I don’t think thus far this year they have played up to their potential.

“Now, they are going to need to do that for the next six games.”

The Timberwolves will have to get it figured out in a hurry as they roll out the welcome mats for the undefeated East Union Lancers, who are coming off a 31-0 shutout of the Lathrop Spartans.