Mark Paule Jr. knew that he had to get into the end zone.
With the third quarter reaching the midway point, Pauleturned the right corner of the East Union defense and raced for the pylon.
He extended his arms – suspended in the air as he reached – and the ball came crashing down past the flag and rolled out of the end zone.
The score ended up being the final nail in the coffin in a 54-28 win over intracity rival East Union on their homecoming night.
“We had the chance and we knew that we had to put the game away,” said Paule, who helped extend Sierra’s permanent lead to 35-14. “I knew that I had to step-up and do whatever I could.
“I had to score – I had to lay it all out on the line, and that’s what I did. Those kinds of plays get everybody fired up.”
While Paule left the game in the third quarter, it didn’t stop Sierra (1-1 VOL, 3-2) from firing on all cylinders – bringing in reserve back Brandon Arreola to keep the momentum moving.
Sierra’s quick-fire offense and balanced attack – even without their senior anchor – allowed them to not only take the lead, but prevent East Union (0-2, 3-2) from advancing the ball. Twice during the game East Union head coach Willie Herrera decided to go for it on a fourth down play, and both times the Sierra defense put up the big spot and forced the turnover on downs.
That alone was enough to get Sierra head coach Jeff Harbison fired up.
“This is why you don’t schedule teams from your town for homecoming,” Harbison said – repeating a mantra that screamed out lout as his players gathered for a post-game pep talk.
“We had a couple of big stops on defense that were great, and our offense – oh our offense,” Harbison said. “I think that the Sierra high school offense pulled a rabbit out of its hat tonight. Our kids came out and played physical, hard-nosed football and that’s what you want to see in a team.”
But the Lancers weren’t without their bright spots.
Quarterback Jack Weaver – who was named the Bulletin’s player-of-the-week for his performance against Gregori High School in Modesto – finished the game with more than 220 yards of passing by completing 18-of-27 passes. He also threw a touchdown pass and ran one in to help give the Lancers early life.
But costly turnovers – a fumble recovered by Sierra was ultimately turned into a touchdown, and the two fourth-and-short scenarios gave Sierra the opportunity to score points.
East Union head coach Willie Herrera said that the onus of the scenario falls on the team that didn’t execute the way that they were supposed to.
“To do this two weeks in a row – allowing turnovers and cheap touchdowns,” Herrera said. “We did it to ourselves tonight.
“Jack (Weaver) did his thing because Jack is an athlete, but that wasn’t the game plan. We’d love to just be able to run the ball all night, but you have to do what you’re able to do and tonight we weren’t able to do what we wanted.”
The Lancers used 8 different running backs during the game, and the only one who ever grabbed any traction was Weaver. He was able to find the end zone on foot later in the game. He finished with 48 yards on 20 carries – most of which came from broken plays where he was able to get away from the rushing defense and advance down field.