Moran’s big night helps Pacheco move a step closer to its first league championship.

Pacheco High football coach David Snapp had a pretty good idea he was going to have to “let Julian Moran loose” on Friday night.

Moran’s backfield partner Ronnie Garcia was playing hurt and Mountain House was determined to contain Panthers quarterback Marcus Ordunez.

The Mustangs didn’t have an answer for Moran, who racked up 242 rushing yards and four touchdowns, to lead Pacheco to one of the biggest wins in school history with a 42-28 victory over previously unbeaten Mountain House at Veterans Stadium.

“They had a plan for Marcus, but that’s all right,” Snapp said. “We have a pretty good three-headed monster.”

The importance of the win was not lost on the Panthers players. They gave Snapp the “Gatorade bucket” shower usually reserved for celebrating championships. Friday’s win didn’t clinch a championship, but it gives Pacheco (7-1, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) sole possession of first place and the inside track to the program’s first league title in school history.

Julian Moran
Julian Moran, Pacheco High Shawn Jansen/Merced Sun-Star

Pacheco can clinch at least a share of the title with a win against winless Beyer (0-8, 0-5 WAC) next week before finishing the season against crosstown rival Los Banos (5-3, 4-1 WAC).

“It’s huge for us,” Snapp said. “This is something this senior group has been shooting for since they were freshmen. This senior group is really tight. Remember that Red Sox team that was referred to 25 cabs for 25 players. That’s not this group. I can’t wait to go into the locker room because I know they’ll be in there dancing and having fun.”

The Panthers took advantage of Mountain House mistakes all night. The Mustangs (7-1, 4-1 WAC) just made too many mistakes to win a big game. Mountain House turned the ball over four times and also had a bad snap on a punt give the Panthers the ball on the Mustangs’ 2-yard line in the third quarter.

The turnovers and bad snap turned into 14 easy points for the Panthers.

“Our defense has really been underrated this year,” Snapp said. “We have some good, aggressive players. Sometimes we’re too aggressive.”

Offensively, the Panthers racked up 386 yards on the ground. Moran scored on a touchdown runs of 26, 23, 4 and 65 yards. Garcia added 77 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

“It’s all about the offensive line,” Moran said. “No line, no shine. They work hard up front.”

The 42 points is the most given up by a Mustangs defense that had only surrendered over 20 points once this season.

“We really wanted this game,” Moran said. “We really, really, really wanted this. We’ve been working hard since day one. It’s not time to stop now.”