MANTECA – There was an excitement in the air on Dino Cunial Field at the conclusion of East Union’s 50th homecoming game.
The Lancers had just finished grinding down Lathrop’s defense for four quarters to earn a hard-fought 26-14 Friday in the Valley Oak League opener for both squads.
Lancers quarterback Jack Weaver threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for another to help East Union avenge last year’s 35-0 loss against the Spartans to remain undefeated.
East Union (4-0, 1-0 VOL) churned out 214 yards on 51 carries to control the game’s tempo and the eventual outcome against the Spartans (1-3, 0-1).
Weaver was 7 of 10 for 64 yards, but he directed an effective option read offense featuring junior fullback Isaiah Sholund.
Sholund rushed 28 times for 140 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that gave East Union a 19-14 lead the Lancers would not relinquish.
Facing a fourth down and 7 with just more than 2 minutes left in the game, Weaver found senior receiver Jake Harries wide open up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown that sealed the outcome.
The Lancers got the early momentum when Harries intercepted Lathrop signal-caller Keonnee Linnell’s first pass near midfield.
Lathrop’s defense stiffened and forced a three-and-out, but East Union punter Mason James’ high kick was fumbled and Lancers senior Daniel Reed quickly pounced on the ball to give East Union new life.
Six plays later, Weaver threw to Lancers senior, and homecoming king, Angel Sena from 11 yards out to draw first blood and a 7-0 lead on Weaver’s kick.
After trading possessions, Lathrop began a drive from its own 13 and quickly crossed midfield with three runs by junior Michael Ramos, who finished with 142 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, down to the Lancers' 47.
Linnell completed a pair of passes to senior Donald Garland III down to the 12 and then called his own number scrambling up the middle for the touchdown with 10:26 left in the half.
Junior kicker Ronaldo Macias finished the 11-play, 87-yard drive with the extra point to knot the game at 7-all.
The Spartans drove all the way to the Lancers' 3 but a pair of Linnell incompletions turned the ball over as the East Union defense held on downs.
Then, Weaver engineered some homecoming magic with a 14-play, 97-yard Lancers drive capped by the quarterback scampering 10 yards up the middle for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the half.
A bad exchange on the snap forced Weaver to throw but the pass play failed and the Lancers took the 13-7 lead and momentum into the halftime locker room.
Lathrop scored a go-ahead touchdown on an 11-yard run by Ramos with 6:12 left in the third for a 14-13 lead, but East Union rallied for the victory.