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Sonora Loses Opener Against Oakdale

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Written by: Zeb Drivdahl

Friday night’s game marked the 100th matchup between the Sonora Wildcats and Oakdale Mustangs, but the Wildcats were unable to mark the occasion with a celebration, losing the contest 27-20 at “The Corral” in Oakdale.

Sonora received the opening kickoff and managed a pair of first downs before a botched exchange on an option fake led to a turnover. Oakdale wasted no time capitalizing on the mistake, finding pay dirt on their second play from scrimmage with a 35-yard touchdown run by Wes Burford. The Wildcats answered on the ensuing possession with a series of quick passes by quarterback Bradley Curnow to Brody Spear, Eli Ingalis, Cash Byington, and Bryce Nicholson. Audie Peeples capped the drive with a 5-yard TD dive to bring Sonora within one. A missed extra point left the score 7-6.

The next Mustang drive was stopped by the Sonora defense, capped by third-down stuff from Ryan Gibbs. After a short Oakdale punt, Sonora moved the ball well on their next possession, but ultimately came up empty as a deep pass attempt from Curnow caught in the wind and was picked off on a brilliant play from the Mustang’s safety. Oakdale proved unable to find the end zone as an inside blitz from linebacker Peeples forced an errant throw, picked off by Byington, and returned inside the 20-yard line.

Sonora would find the end zone 4 plays later on a jump ball from Curnow to Spear to put the Wildcats up 12-7. After trading turnovers on downs on their next possessions, Oakdale regained the lead on a quick series at the end of the half, riding two big play action passes and a fullback dive for the touchdown as time expired.

The second half saw few things break in favor of the Wildcats. After being forced into a 4th and 5, Oakdale received the opening kickoff and broke the game open with a brilliantly executed play-action pass for a 41-yard touchdown to take a 20-12 lead. The Mustangs would pad their lead to 27-12 with a fourth-quarter touchdown. Despite their own 4th quarter touchdown and another desperation drive as time expired, the Wildcats could not close the gap.

Ryan Gibbs earned Chicken Ranch Casino Player of the Game honors for his impressive defensive line play. Sonora moves to 0-1 on the season. The Wildcats open their home schedule next Friday night at Dunleavy Field against Ripon.

Calaveras High will start the season next Friday with an away game against Carson High School in Carson City, Nevada. Due to a lack of potential players, Bret Harte High School will not be fielding a varsity football team this year.