The Mustangs came out ready to build on the momentum of their best football season yet on Friday night at Mountain House High.
The Mountain House Mustangs and the Union Mine Diamondbacks of El Dorado traded touchdowns through the first half, and the Mustangs took control in the second half to get the 53-30 win.
“Our mindset in that first half coming into the game is we come out hard, play for each other and we’ve got nothing to lose, and that’s how we played,” said senior quarterback Jesse Jordan. “This is our first playoff game, so I feel like we were all jittery and nervous, but once we got out of that and talked to each other it was all over.”
The Mustangs (10-1, 6-1 Western Athletic Conference) are in the playoffs for the first time since Mountain House High fielded a varsity team in 2015, and came into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 tournament after finishing as co-champions of the WAC, tied for first with Pacheco and Los Banos.
“It’s fantastic, our first playoff win ever, 10-1, I honestly couldn’t be prouder of all of my teammates,” Jordan said.
The Mustangs covered 524 yards of offense, including 128 yards passing for Jordan, who also ran the ball 13 times for 86 yards. Mountain House senior Vladik Sutherland led the Mustangs’ running game, with 175 yards rushing on 16 carries.
“We knew it was going to be a fight until the end,” Sutherland said. “We had to keep telling each other, we can’t let this be the last game of our high school career. We had to keep pushing 110 percent every single play.”
“It’s overwhelming to see where we’ve come from and where we are now. We have a lot of faith in our coaches. They put us where we need to be. All credit goes to them.”
The two teams fought for an advantage through the first half. The Mustangs scored first on Jordan’s 32-yard pass to senior Keenami Maggard, who made the catch in the end zone as a Union Mine defender also got his hands on the ball.
Union Mine (4-6, 4-1 Sierra Valley Conference) scored on its next possession on a 4-yard pass from junior quarterback Clayton Byer to junior Kody Springer at the end of the first quarter.
The Mustangs answered with a seven-play, 58-yard drive, including Sutherland’s 37-yard touchdown run. Senior Cameron McWilliams made the kick, which put the Mustangs up 13-6 and would keep the Mustangs in the lead for the rest of the game.
Byer completed a pass to sophomore Devin Williams, who dashed up the left side for a 40-yard touchdown for the Diamondbacks. Mountain House senior Elias Escobar ran the kickoff back 39 yards, and the Mustangs then covered 50 yards on 10 plays, including Escobar’s 10-yard touchdown run.
Byer and Williams teamed up again for the Diamondbacks, this time for a 24-yard touchdown pass, to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 19-18 at the half.
Byer’s passing game was the core of the Diamondbacks’ offense as he completed 26 of 43 passes for 324 yards. Union Mine ran the ball for 77 yards.
Mountain House senior linebacker Troy Clegg said his team quickly dialed in on how to stop the Diamondbacks running game. By the second half the Mustang defenders were also stopping the Union Mine receivers quickly, and they grabbed four interceptions in the second half.
“We studied a lot and we have a really good defensive coach (Dan Butler),” Clegg said. “He plans everything out and our game plan was good. Everyone played to the best of their ability.”
Mountain House coach Jason McCloskey said he expected Byer’s passing game to be effective.
“He has a good system that caused us problems early, but we shut down their run. We knew we’d be able to do that,” McCloskey said.
“What we told the guys was to stay disciplined. We knew what was coming,” he added. “It’s just about being smart, firing off the ball and just do your assignment. Once we did that we were finally the team I wanted to see earlier in the year on offense.”
The Mustangs scored on their second possession of the third quarter after Sutherland grabbed an interception, and two plays later made a 16-yard touchdown run. Union Mine answered with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Byer to junior Andrew Merrill.
The Mustangs covered 70 yards on 14 plays, with junior Elijah McLaurin contributing a couple big runs on his way to 78 rushing yards on seven carries. Jordan connected with senior Jakob Moberg for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
After Clegg intercepted the ball on the Union Mine 40-yard line it took just three plays for the Mustangs to score again, this time on a 24-yard pass from Jordan to senior Sam Olsen.
Byer passed to senior Colin Jones for a 22-yard touchdown for the Diamondbacks, but it couldn’t break the Mustangs’ momentum. Senior Mekhi Bryant ran the kickoff back 30-yards to the Union Mine 40-yard line, and from there Sutherland broke through the middle for the touchdown.
A series of turnovers followed, with Bryant intercepting a pass only to see the Mustangs fumble the ball away three plays later. On the Diamondbacks’ first play after that Mountain House junior Austin Jordan intercepted a Byer pass, and three plays later Jesse Jordan scored on a 35-yard run. McWilliams’ kick, his fifth on eight attempts, was good, to make it a 53-30 game.
The Mustangs, the No. 7 seed in the SJS Division 5 bracket, advance to face No. 2 Ripon on Friday, Nov. 9. The Ripon Indians (9-1, 5-1 Trans Valley League) are the co-champions of the TVL, and were also TVL co-champions last year when Mountain House was in that league.
The Mustangs led Ripon 21-7 at halftime in their Oct. 6, 2017 TVL game, but Ripon ended up winning it 33-21.
“We had those guys last year at halftime and they came back and got us,” McCloskey said. “Our kids have always wanted to play them again, even when we got out of the TVL, they were like, ‘Get Ripon. Put ‘em on our schedule.’ I’m expecting a hard-fought game.”
Tracy 49, Lincoln 28
Tracy High junior Trevor Pope made big plays on offense and defense for the Bulldogs on Friday, leading his team to a 49-28 win over the Lincoln High Zebras of Lincoln in the first round of the SJS Division 2 playoffs at Tracy High.
Pope accounted for the biggest share of Tracy’s 422 rushing yards on Friday, covering 203 yards on eight carries, and he was also the primary target for junior quarterback Logan Fife, who went 11 for 18 for 175 yards, with four of those passes to Pope for 98 yards.
Lincoln (5-6, 3-2 Foothill Valley League) scored first on a 7-yard run midway through the first quarter, and Tracy (8-3, 4-1 Tri-City Athletic League) responded at the end of the first when junior Elias Williams scored on a 4-yard run. Pope intercepted the ball on the first play after the kickoff, and five plays later Fife scored on a 9-yard run early in the second quarter. Senior Tyler Gaudreau made the kick, the first of five that he would make on Friday, to put the Bulldogs up 13-7.
The Zebras scored on a 23-yard pass to take a 14-13 lead, but it was the last time the Lincoln team would have the lead. Tracy scored at the end of the second quarter on senior Zach Guillen’s 11-yard run to put Tracy up 20-14.
The Bulldogs scored the first touchdown of the second half, a 9-yard run for Pope, followed by a 2-point conversion pass from Fife to Guillen. Lincoln scored on a 36-yard run, and Tracy ended the third quarter with Fife’s 6-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs up 35-21.
The Zebras ended their next possession with a punt to the Tracy 2-yard line, and on the next play Pope would get away on a 98-yard touchdown run.
Lincoln scored next on a 4-yard run, and Tracy scored the last touchdown of the game midway through the fourth on Williams’ 3-yard run.
The Bulldogs, the No. 8 seed in SJS Division 2, now travel to Loomis on Friday, Nov. 9, to face No. 1 seed Del Oro High.
Gustine 28, Millennium 27
The Millennium football team’s season ended on Friday in Gustine in the opening round of the SJS Division 7 playoffs. The Gustine Reds overcame the Falcons’ early lead, and then held on at the end against Millennium’s late comeback attempt.
The Falcons (5-6, 4-2 Central California Athletic Alliance) scored first on senior Isaiah Woods’ 2-yard run, and Millennium took a 14-0 lead when sophomore quarterback Caden Duke completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior Ian Braten in the second quarter.
Gustine (6-5, 3-4 Southern Athletic League) scored in the second on a quarterback keeper to cut Millennium’s lead to 14-7 at the half, and the Reds tied it up 14-14 in the third quarter.
Woods scored on a 9-yard run in the third, and Gustine answered with a 30-yard touchdown run to make it a 21-21 tie going into the fourth quarter.
Gustine took a 28-21 lead with about 5 minutes left in the game. The Falcons scored again on a 1-yard run for Woods with less than 2 minutes left, but the Falcons were unsuccessful on the 2-point conversion attempt that would have put them back in the lead at the end.
Gustine now advances to face No. 1 seed Denair on Friday, Nov. 9, in the Division 7 semifinals.