Oakdale iced the win on the drive following the free kick, with Thomas hitting Marcus Northcutt for 30 yards and a 22-3 lead with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
Vista finally got in the end zone with 5:19 left when Pfeffer scored on a 1-yard run following his own 54-yard punt return. But the Eagles would not see the ball again.
Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 Championshipat Lincoln High School in Stockton
OAKDALE 22, VISTA DEL LAGO 9Vista del Lago 3 0 0 6 9
Oakdale 7 7 8 0 22
OAK Eddie Machado 21 interception return (Sean Harrity Kick)
VIS FG Anderz Mintz 33
OAK Austin Jones 21 pass from Spencer Thomas (Harrity kick)
OAK Safety, Josh Pfeffer tackled in end zone
OAK Marcus Northcutt 30 pass from Thomas (run failed)
VIS Pfeffer 1 run (pass failed)
MVP: Oakdale fullback Nikk Ryan had 27 carries for 170 yards, and the physical runner allowed Oakdale to run out the final 3:30 of the game. Ryan played a big role on the defensive side of the ball, as well, holding Vista del Lago to two first downs in the second half.
Offensive MVP: Oakdale QB Spencer Thomas didn't put up big numbers (4 of 10, 58 yards passing; 13 carries, minus-17 rushing), but he tossed TD passes of 21 yards to Austin Jones and 30 yards to Marcus Northcutt. He threw an early pick, but called a conservative game by design much of the night.
Defensive MVP: Oakdale DB Eddie Machado provided the biggest play of the night and it took place in the opening minutes, just like last year. He stepped in front of a Matt Jimison pass and returned it 21 yards for a TD just 3:36 into the game for a 7-0 lead. A year ago, Marcus Hernandez picked off the first pass of the game and ran it back for a TD to spark a 49-7 rout.
Decision of game: Oakdale coach Trent Merzon turning his punt-block team loose on an overwhelmed Vista del Lago punter. DB Bastian Jiminez blocked two punts and his pressure forced the punter to rush his next kick. It went just 15 yards, and Oakdale quickly scored on Austin Jones' 21-yard TD catch. That put Oakdale up 14-3 right before halftime.
Mistake of the game: Vista del Lago was too reliant on short passes, rarely challenging the Oakdale secondary deep. The Mustangs had 10 defenders crowded close to the line on some plays, and were able to quickly make the tackle after 2 or 3 yards. The Mustangs eventually stopped the short passes, too.
Stat of the game: Oakdale's defense forced five turnovers four interceptions thrown by Vista del Lago QB Matt Jimison (he had thrown just nine in his first 13 games combined) and a fumble. The defense blocked two punts during the first half, as well.
Oakdale picks off tipped pass
Oakdale defense records a sack
Oakdale hooks up on scoring play
Oakdale defense records safety
Oakdale had good game through air
Oakdale blocks a Vista del Lago punt
Oakdale's Eddie Machado returns pick for TD