A year ago, Nevada Union went down to Grant and thrashed the Pacers, 37-7, as the highly celebrated rivalry got restarted after a seven-year hiatus.
On Friday, Grant got its revenge.
The Pacers (2-0) did it through the air and on the ground as they routed the Miners, 46-6, under the Friday night lights of Hooper Stadium.
Similar to week one against McQueen, the Miners (0-2) couldn’t get anything going offensively, putting all the pressure on the defense to make stops. And while NU’s defense bent in the first half, it broke in the second.
Grant set the tone early when it went 64 yards on its opening drive and scored on a Deandre Whittington-Grays 1-yard plunge. Whittington-Grays led the Pacer rush game with 80 yards on five carries and two touchdowns. The intimidating 230-pound back added a 26-yard score in the second quarter, breaking several tackles as he rumbled to the end zone.
When all was said and done, Grant’s offense out-gained Nevada Union’s 436-78.
The Miner offense struggled all night long, notching only five first downs and six points. The Miners rushed the ball 33 times for 56 yards, an average of 1.7 yards per rush.
“It’s quite obvious our offensive line is struggling,” NU head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “Later in the game, I actually ran a few plays just so I could watch what the hell was going on. You could just tell they are not getting any punch, they’re not fast on their first step, so we got some work to do — a lot of work to do on offense.”
The pass game was dismal as well. Senior Michael Tapia went 0-for-8 with an interception and sophomore Justus Spillner was just 2-of-8 for 22 yards. Third-string quarterback Chase Loper even played a series as NU still tries to settle on a signal caller.
While NU’s line struggled to open holes and give the quarterbacks time, Grant’s line had no such trouble.
The immense line of Grant, which averages more than 300 pounds per player, protected Donovan Brown as he went 12-for-21 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Brown excelled in the second half, going 5-for-5 for 68 yards and a score to put the game away.
NU’s Jake Berger nabbed one of Brown’s interceptions and brought it back to the NU 14-yard line. Two plays later, senior Joe Voight took the ball around the edge for a 12-yard score. It was Voight’s second touchdown of the season.
That was Voight’s only productive play though as he finished the night with four rushes for nine yards. Berger led NU’s ground game with 36 yards, and Travis Owens added 29 yards on 10 carries.
Despite the 46 points and 436 yards given up, NU’s defense looked decent but spent far too much time on the field.
“I’m very proud of our defense,” Houlihan said. “It’s the same thing that happened in game one. Game one was the same. We get tired, we got a lot of guys playing both ways, they’re working their tails off, doing their jobs, making stops, and we’re not helping them (offensively).”
For the Miners, Loper also had a pick, grabbing a bobbled ball in the Grant endzone to thwart a scoring opportunity. Junior Colton Barker also wrapped up NU’s only sack of the night.
A bright spot for NU was its backup punter, J.D. Atkinson, who filled in nicely for injured Chandler Heppe.
“I’m not going to say anything about being disappointed or anything like that,” Houlihan said. “Because you know what, we are going to suit up whoever we got and step onto the field, and we’re going to play as hard as we can, and it will eventually click in to where we can finish. Right now, we have maybe a quarter, we can play a quarter, then we will get a half, then we will get three, then four, and hopefully, we’re there by league time.”
JV: Grant 48, Nevada Union 0
The Miners had no answers for the Pacer offense as they were blanked 48-0.
Brandon Mrozowski led NU’s offense with 40 rushing yards. He also tallied seven tackles.
Anthony Carcamo led the defense with 11 tackles and Edwin Dardon chipped in with six tackles.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.