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Mustangs trample Lancers to ruin homecoming night
Edward Antle of East Union can't stop a pass to Oakdale's Tanner Traub on Friday. - photo by Ike Dodson
Never has scheduling dealt a team such an evil hand when East Union had to roll out the welcome mats for two-time defending Valley Oak League champion Oakdale High in a 55-14 homecoming loss.

The Lancers could only watch as Oakdale scored early and often, starting with Devin Brooks’ 88-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff. Oakdale added four more scores over the first two quarters, walking off the field with a 34-0 halftime lead.

East Union’s offense sputtered against a tenacious Mustang defense, putting together just three offensive first downs in the first half, two of which came via Oakdale penalties. Oakdale on the other hand was unstoppable on the ground, rushing for nearly 400 yards in the win.

“We expect to run the ball,” Oakdale head coach Trent Merzon said. “We are going to run the football. With our dudes and what we do, we are going to pound the football.”

East Union came out of halftime looking up at a five-touchdown deficit, feeling the pressure of an anxious homecoming crowd. The squad had every opportunity to tank, yet it held on, finally giving the crowd reason to scream when it got on the scoreboard with 10:32 remaining.

“We judge our guys on the little things,” East Union head coach Mike James. “Because that is what we have to do.  I love that we had no quit in us, because we faced a very good team.

“A well coached team that I give all the credit in the world.”

When the Lancers were able to get something going it was on the heels and hands of junior Teejay Gordon. Gordon took over the helms when starting quarterback Dennis Johnson went down with an ankle injury. Gordon was instrumental in both of the Lancers’ scoring drives, throwing for the first score and plunging in from 1-yard out on the second.

“I think (number) 4 does what 4 does,” James said of Gordon’s efforts. “What I mean by that is he is a quarterback, but he’s taken a step to the side and plays running back because of what Dennis Johnson does for us. I don’t know if Teejay Gordon knows what the word ‘quit’ is.

“He deserves more of the credit than anybody.”

Gordon played through the pain of an agonizing ankle injury that has been plaguing him for three weeks, yet the success he was able to produce was evident even with Oakdale’s victory securely tucked away. He was able to find Ricky Inderbitzin on a perfect 16-yard strike and completed his final seven passes of the game.

“I just kept playing hard because the sideline was pumping me up,” Gordon said. “The line was continuing to block; not giving up, so it really got me going.”

East Union (0-3 VOL, 2-4 overall) has already faced two of its steepest challenges of the season in its VOL opening defeat to undefeated Sierra (46-12 on Oct. 2) and Oakdale. Both squads are going to push for the VOL title, and the Lancers know first-hand how good both teams are.

“Oakdale is a hard-running team,” Gordon said of the unbeaten Mustangs. “They were hard to stop. They just kept pounding and pounding the ball on the ground and we couldn’t stop the running game.”

The Lancers got solid production from Inderbitzen (seven catches, 58 yards) and Nelson Wood (eight carries, 40 yards). Gordon finished with nearly 100 yards total offense, not including a 75-yard touchdown toss that was dropped.

East Union will look to get back on track when they make the trip south to Ceres to take on the Central Valley Hawks Friday at 7 p.m. The Hawks are coming off a 29-20 loss to the Sierra Timberwolves.