Oakdale 14 7 0 14 — 35
East Union 0 7 6 8 — 21
O — Jace Rau 35 run (Brock Osmundson kick), 9:58.
O — Rau 56 run (Osmundson kick), 5:09.
E — Dylan Lee 8 pass from A.J. Vasquez (Glenn Weber kick), 9:27.
O — Mason Ahm 38 pass from Mickey Merzon (Osmundson kick), 0:18.3.
E — Emilio Perez Jr. 4 run (run failed), 7:41.
E — Ace Avelar 9 pass from Vasquez (Lee run), 10:29.
O — Rau 36 run (Osmundson kick), 7:55.
O — Tommy Chance 25 interception return (Osmundson kick), 2:24.
Few games between East Union and Oakdale have been competitive in the past three decades.
This was one of them, though it still ended in the same exasperating result for the host Lancers. Led by an extraordinary effort from do-it-all athlete Dylan Lee, EU gave one of the Valley Oak League’s pre-eminent programs all it could handle Friday at Dino Cunial Field before stumbling to a 35-21 defeat.
The Lancers (0-2 VOL, 3-4 overall) were done in by three turnovers in the second half, including Tommy Chance’s 25-yard pick-six that all but sealed it for Oakdale (2-0, 6-1) with 2:24 remaining. It’s the Mustangs’ 29th straight victory over East Union.
“Frustrated, obviously, but we fought hard,” Lee said. “Big mistakes led to big plays, which hurt us. We have to clean that up. We just have to be more disciplined.”
A three-star rated college prospect at linebacker, Lee certainly got to show his talents on the defensive side but was especially dazzling in coach Mike Kuhnlenz’s spread offense. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Lee started at quarterback but later played snaps at running back, wide receiver and slot receiver.
He completed 13 of 20 passes for 132 yards, rushed for 48 yards on eight attempts and had nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
“Dylan made a couple of unbelievable plays and extended some drives,” Oakdale coach Trent Merzon said. “Unbelievable football player. He did it all. What do you do? They throw jump balls to him and he just makes unbelievable catches. … One of the top players I’ve seen in my career and I’ve been doing this a long time.
“I’ve never seen in a kid in a football game do so many different things from so many different locations and he takes a beating on both sides (of scrimmage). It really is unbelievable. He played great defensively. I don’t know how many tackles he had, but it had to be a whole bunch.”
Lee split time behind center with emerging senior A.J. Vazquez, a first-year player who had thrown just 25 passes going into the Lancers’ league opener at Central Catholic. He finished 16-of-26 for 144 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Vazquez hit diminutive receiver Ace Avelar (11 catches, 63 yards) for a 9-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. On the conversion, he handed it off to Lee who bulled his way through the goal line to tie the score at 21-21 with 10:29 remaining.
“He does a great job with what he’s asked to do,” Lee said of Vasquez. “He has been put in stressful situations and he executes well, for the most part.”
Time of possession belonged to East Union for much of the game, though it was in part because of three long touchdown runs from Jace Rau. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior accounted for much of Oakdale’s offense, finishing with 140 rushing yards on nine carries.
East Union outgained the Mustangs, 333-287. Oakdale is still without standout running back/linebacker Brian Delte, who has missed three games to injury.
“Every year we get new guys and find new ways to do it and it’s very hard,” Merzon said. “We’re battle-tested, but we’re young. We started the year with 18 new starters in different positions and we have some key guys out.”
His Mustangs galloped to a 14-0 lead, but he admitted to never feeling comfortable with the early cushion.
Vasquez hooked up with Lee for an 8-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to cut the deficit in half. East Union looked to tie it back up before halftime, starting its final drive of the second quarter from its own 22 with 3:16 to go. The Lancers were eventually faced with a fourth-and-20 from their own 32 inside the final minute, but instead of punting they opted to go for it. A short pass to Avelar resulted in a 9-yard gain and turnover on downs.
Oakdale capitalized on the opportunity. After the Mustangs called their final timeout of the half, quarterback Mickey Merzon found a wide-open Mason Ahm up the middle for a 38-yard touchdown with 18.3 seconds left.
East Union started the second half with possession and scored on Emilio Perez Jr’s 4-yard scamper, making it 21-13.
“Proud of the boys for how hard they fought,” Kuhnlenz said. “It just seems like each week we’re getting a little closer and then something just happens where it all falls apart and that’s on me. I have to get better at coaching, that’s what it comes down to. Players win games and coaches lose them. I lost this game for us tonight.”