On a crisp evening at Hooper Stadium, Granite Bay showed why it is the 2012 Sierra Foothill League champ and why Nevada Union still has a lot of work to do if it finds its way into the playoffs.
The Grizzlies (7-3, 5-0 SFL) controlled the game from start to finish and never trailed on their way to a 38-7 victory over Nevada Union (5-5 2-3 SFL).
“They’re a heck of a team,” NU head coach Dave Humphers said. “We made a couple of mistakes, and they were very, very good on defense, and that gave their offense a lot of chances.”
The Grizzlies clinched the SFL Friday night and left the Miners to wait until today to find out their playoff fate.
Granite Bay’s defense forced three straight punts from the Miners in the first quarter and then took the lead on a 34-yard touchdown scamper by John Cooley.
Nevada Union answered in the second quarter when senior quarterback Kyle Cota found senior Ian Davis in the back of the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown. Davis jumped up and over the defender, tipped the ball to himself and managed to stay in bounds on the play.
Davis finishes the season with 1,237 yards receiving to go with 10 touchdowns.
On the night, Cota was 11-of-23 for 180 yards and the one touchdown to Davis.
Granite Bay retook the lead on a Taft Partridge 1-yard scoring plunge.
Down 14-7 in the waning minutes of the second quarter, Cota found Davis deep over the middle for a 55-yard completion that took the Miners down to the 1-yard line.
But instead of knotting the game up, the Miners fumbled the ball into the end zone where Granite Bay recovered.
The Grizzlies subsequently drove 80 yards in less than two minutes and scored on a 16-yard pass from Grant Caraway to Steven Graber with just 28 seconds on the clock.
Nevada Union did not recover.
The Grizzlies drove down the field on their first drive of the second half and punched it in to go up 28-7. They added another touchdown and a field goal while holding the Miners scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Granite Bay’s Caraway threw for 109 yards on 11-of-14 passing and one touchdown and racked up 286 yards on the ground. The Grizzly rush was led by Tony Ellison with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Cooley with 93 yards and a score.
“They had the advantage in that they have really big linemen,” Humphers said. “It was really hard to stop their run game once it really got going.”
The Miner rush left something to be desired. NU ran the ball 19 times for only 53 yards.
With the pass game being NU’s only source of offense the Grizzlies went into attack mode sacking Cota four times. In the second-half, Cota played with a noticeable limp after taking a punishing hit at the end of the first half.
The Miners close the regular season with a losing record in league play and on a two-game skid, leaving their playoff hopes in the air.
“If we get into the playoffs, it’s because we won five games and played a very tough schedule,” Humphers said.
The Sac-Joaquin Section playoff brackets will be released today at 4:30 p.m.
JV: Nevada Union 41, Granite Bay 34
The Miners finished the season strong by outlasting the Grizzlies.
Travis Owens had another big day on the ground with 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Monserate Nieves added 143 yards on the ground and punched in four touchdowns, including the game winner.
Monserate’s 1-yard scoring plunge came after freshman quarterback Justice Spillner found Brock Grininger on fourth-and-11 for a big gain that put NU in scoring position.
Grininger also added an interception, and Arata Enzo added a sack as the Miners closed the season with a 5-5 record.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org