It was homecoming night in Rocklin, and despite the Disney theme, there would be very little drama and no story book ending for Nevada Union — just the Thunder rolling, and rolling, and rolling.
Rocklin hung 48 on the Miners in the first half, then put it on cruise control from there, resting its starters and coasting to a 55-7 victory.
“We keep making the same mistakes week in and week out,” NU head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “Shame on us if we keep playing that person. In the second half, I played two different offensive lines, guys I’ve probably never played before, and they did fine.”
The Miners managed only 30 yards of offense in the first half as Rocklin dominated both sides of the ball as well as special teams.
Rocklin got things going just 1 minute, 30 seconds into the game when Joshua Gurnaby took an NU punt back 68 yards for the touchdown. Gurnaby broke the initial tackle attempt, scurried up the sideline and cut back against the grain to avoid the rest of the Miner aggressors to put Rocklin up for good.
Rocklin’s sophomore tailback Evyn Holtz put the Thunder up 14-0 on Rocklin’s next possession with a 1-yard plunge.
The Thunder would make it 21-0 on their next drive when what appeared to be a swing pass to Gage Sorenson turned into a half back pass as Sorenson caught the backward pass, set his feet and fired downfield to a wide open Blake Laurin for a 37-yard touchdown.
Rocklin quarterback Logan Webb then got into the action, hitting Laurin for a 46-yard score just minutes into the second quarter.
Webb finished the night 6-of-9 passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Webb sat the entire second half.
Rocklin, not one to sit on a lead, then got an impressive 38-yard touchdown run from Holtz, who spun out of one tackle, broke another and then out-ran the NU defense to the end zone. Holtz finished with 86 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Holtz also sat the entire second half.
Leading 34-0, Rocklin went back to work, scoring on another Webb-to-Laurin connection. Laurin closed the night as efficiently as a player can with three catches for 102 yards and three touchdowns.
Rocklin would add another couple of rushing touchdowns, one in the second and one in the third, before the offense was done.
“We are outmatched physically, and we see that,” Houlihan said. “No one is getting down. That’s just where the group is. The group understands where we are and what we are doing.”
Coming off their first shutout in 30 years, the Miners really wanted to taste the sacred sod and found their way into the end zone in the fourth. On fourth-and-goal from the 7-yard line, Justus Spillner found sophomore receiver Drew Daniels on a curl route. Daniels caught the ball on the two, rolled inside and fought through two tacklers to put the ball past the goal line.
Spillner finished the night 4-of-7 for 40 yards and one touchdown. Daniels made two catches for 21 yards and the score. Daniels’ other catch went for a first down on third-and-long.
It wasn’t until the second half that NU’s pass game could breathe, having been sacked five times in the first half.
“(Spillner) will get better,” Houlihan said. “He’s a sophomore. Drew (Daniels) is sophomore. There’s pluses there. There are pluses in everything.”
Leading the NU ground game was Mo Nieves with 17 carries for 39 yards in his first game back since a Week 1 knee injury.
“Mo will be better next week because now he’s over the fear he will get hurt again,” Houlihan said. “He will be better next week, but give him a lot of credit — he played gutsy tonight. He wasn’t at full speed, and that’s frustrating for him, but he didn’t ask to come out once.”
Joe Voight tallied 41 yards on six carries, and Travis Owens added 30 yards rushing and 25 receiving. Owens made a beautiful fingertip catch to help set up NU’s only score.
Defensively for the Miners, Joseph Ten-Eyck led the way with 13 tackles, 10 of them solo. Dylan Phadt wrapped up nine, and Colton Barker came up with a tackle for a loss.
“The guys understand where we are and understand that the season can be like this every game and OK,” Houlihan said. “But they’re still going to play. They’re still excited. They’re still kids. As a staff, it’s frustrating, and as a team, it’s frustrating, but they have to go out and perform. Bottom line.”
JV: Rocklin 46, Nevada Union 13
The Miners continue to battle their hearts out on the gridiron despite another lopsided loss, this time to Rocklin by 33.
Leading NU was Brandon Mrozowski with 129 yards, including an 89-yard score in the fourth.
The Miners’ Joe Peterson caught the other NU score, a 57-yard touchdown pass from James Schnitzius.
On the defensive end, Kashe McHugh wrapped up 10 tackles, Ryan Elkins tallied six tackles, Caleb Patterson had seven tackles, and Bryan Sparks blocked a kick.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.