The Rocklin Thunder rolled into Hooper Stadium on homecoming night and thumped the Nevada Union football team, 35-9.
“It was my fault that we lost tonight,” Nevada Union head coach Dave Humphers said. “I wasn’t a very good coach. I think our kids tried real hard and played their tails off, but we got beat.”
Rocklin dominated on both sides of the ball, racking up 342 yards of total offense and scoring five touchdowns, while the Miners managed just 188 yards and one touchdown.
The Thunder ran a two-quarterback offense, featuring senior Daniel Kniffen (11-of-13 for 125 yards and two touchdowns) and junior Logan Webb (9-of-16 for 87 yards and two touchdowns).
The two quarterbacks combined to nickel and dime the Miners to death by relying on the short passing game. Rocklin chipped away at the Miners, never completed a play of longer than 29 yards and rarely put itself in tough third- or fourth-down situations.
In the Miners’ past two losses, it was the big play that bit them defensively. In Friday’s game, it was the inability to stop the underneath passing game that doomed them.
“They were a better team tonight,” Humphers said. “You got to hand it to them. They were a better team tonight.”
In the first quarter, Rocklin opened the scoring with a 6-yard pass from Kniffen to Jared Amader to go up 7-0.
After an impressive NU punt pitted Rocklin on its own 3-yard line, the Miners put two points on the board when Tanner Vallejo chased down Kniffen in the end zone.
Those were the Miners’ only points until late in the fourth quarter.
Rocklin soon answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kniffen to Cory Bermester.
Then, with the clock winding down in the second quarter, Rocklin converted a fourth-and-20 in Miner territory to set up another touchdown, this time on a pass from Webb to Dominic Giampaoli, to put Rocklin up 21-2 with 27 seconds left in the half.
The Miner defense stepped up in the third quarter, holding Rocklin without a point, but in the fourth, Rocklin sealed the game with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Jack Wittwer.
NU quarterback Kyle Cota did mount a scoring drive late in the fourth quarter, finding Ian Davis for a 5-yard touchdown. But Rocklin responded with a 23-yard touchdown run from Skyler Gonzalez to put the Thunder up 35-9.
On the night, Cota threw for 144 yards on 13-of-22 passing with a touchdown and an interception. Cota was also sacked four times.
The Miner rush game was deplorable, amassing 44 total yards, which included losing 3 yards in the whole of the second half.
Leading the Miners defensively was Vallejo with 12 tackles, two of which were for losses. Miguel Espinosa added a sack and six tackles, and T.J. Hart recovered a muffed punt.
The loss marks the second straight week the Miners have lost by more than 23 points and the first time this season they have been held under 10 points.
The Miners now fall to 3-3 on the season and 0-1 in Sierra Foothill League play with Woodcreek visiting Friday.
JV: Rocklin 42,
Nevada Union 22
The Miners dropped their first SFL game of the season Friday, falling to Rocklin by 20.
The Thunder pass game was too much for the Miners throughout as Rocklin amassed 296 yards through the air, including three touchdowns.
Travis Owens led the Miner offense with 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Monserate Nieves added 96 yards on the ground, and Isaac Rodriguez added a touchdown.
NU quarter back Chase Loper threw for 75 yards and also had seven tackles on defense. Joseph Ten Eyck wrapped up seven tackles for the Miners, and Josh Belendez tallied a sack.
The Miners are now 2-4 on the season and 0-1 in the SFL.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4232.