Oakdale might be a Division III team, but when the game with Division I Folsom was over, Folsom coach Kris Richardson perhaps paid the Mustangs the ultimate compliment.
“They could definitely win games in the Sierra Foothill League,” Richardson said after Folsom’s 45-28 win Friday night. “They are tough and physical and a great football team.”
While the Bulldogs took the lead for good late in the second quarter and pulled away in the second half, Oakdale provided them a physical battle that left them drained, bruised and battered.
“That’s the kind of game I like to have in the preseason,” Richardson said. “I knew they would be tough. Winning games 55-0 doesn’t do us any good. Maybe we underestimated them a little bit. They execute their offense very well, but so do we. We got the stops when we needed to.”
Things were tight in the first half, mainly because Oakdale controlled the ball for more than 15 minutes. While the Mustangs racked up the yards on the ground, they only reached the end zone once. Oddly enough, it came on a pass play. Quarterback Marc Dickson hooked up with Hunter Falconi and when Folsom’s Isaiah Barner missed the tackle, Falconi was gone for a 64-yard touchdown.
Folsom answered on the next drive, but couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone, instead settling for a 26-yard field goal by Oscar Sanchez.
The Mustangs worked the ball down to Folsom’s 21-yard line on their next possession, but a penalty pushed them back and they ended up having to punt. Folsom took the lead for good with 1:18 to play in the half when Brandon Rupchock scored on a one-yard run on fourth down to put Folsom up 10-7.
As the Mustangs tried to score before the half, Barner stepped in front of a Mustang receiver and picked off a pass and returned it 37 yards to the Oakdale 40-yard line with 23.8 seconds remaining in the half. It was arguably the biggest play of the game.
“The receiver came out and looped it, and I saw the quarterback scramble,” Barner said. “Then I saw the ball in the air and just attacked it.”
Three plays later, Kaiden Bennett found Parker Clayton alone in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown with 2.7 seconds remaining in the half, giving Folsom a 17-7 lead.
Neither team scored on their first possession of the second half, but the Bulldogs scored the last four times they had the ball, as Oakdale couldn’t stop them. Bennett scored on a six-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 24-7. After a Mustangs score, Bennett threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Joe Ngata and then found Elijhah Badger for a 10-yard score for a 38-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
An 80-yard TD run kept Oakdale’s hopes alive, but Rupchock finished the scoring for the Bulldogs with a 32-yard run.
Bennett completed 19-of-28 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for 91 yards and a score. Joe Ngata caught 12 passes for 179 yards and one TD, while Rupchock rushed for 106 yards and two scores.