Miners keep playoff hopes alive
DAVIS – Things were looking pretty bleak for Nevada Union’s playoff hopes in the early going of Friday night’s Sierra Foothill League matchup with the Davis Blue Devils.
The Miners were trailing 7-0 and had just been stopped on fourth-and-10 at the Davis 26-yard line.
And perhaps the worst news at that point was NU senior quarterback Chad Mason was whisked off to the hospital following an incomplete pass with what was feared a broken left leg.
But after Nevada Union’s defense responded by forcing the Blue Devils to punt on the ensuing possession – and after the long snap sailed over Davis’ Scott Malinoff’s head – things turned quickly the other way for the Miners.
One snap later, NU’s Steele Jantz took a quarterback sneak two yards to give Nevada Union its first score and all the momentum the Miners would need.
On the shoulders of the offensive line, Nevada Union turned to the ground game and churned out a 27-21 win on the road, keeping the Miners’ playoff hopes alive.
And with Franklin (Elk Grove) holding off Laguna Creek 26-21, the Miners can clinch the Delta Valley Conference’s third playoff slot with a win on Thursday at Valley.
“We have our destiny back in our hands,” said NU head coach Dave Humphers. “It was a very big night for us.”
Once Mason was injured, the Miners turned to their rushing attack and NU’s backfield and offensive line didn’t disappoint. The Miners chewed up 284 yards on the ground off 47 carries.
“Our offensive line talked about it on the sideline,” Humphers said. “When Chad went down, they got intense.
“There was a dramatic change. They really got after it at that point.”
That offensive front of Taylor Dever, Mike Saturnino, Steve Flores, Travis Gullickson, Eric Tilly, Wes Plummer and Jason Niederberger plowed the path to the victory, as NU completed just one pass on the night.
“It was huge,” said Niederberger. “We all talked about it in the huddle that we were going to run the ball and play smash-mouth offense. We just got back to our basic plays and came together in the end.”
NU’s rushing attack was led by Jesse Ettlin’s 19 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Dave Zealear had 16 carries for 92 yards, while Andrew Metroka added seven totes for 28 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run that put the Miners on top at 14-7 in the second quarter.
“It was great. The offensive line was getting off the ball and moving guys, and they were picking up the blitzes,” said Ettlin. “It was amazing. You couldn’t ask for more.”
Nevada Union took firm control of the contest right after the half, driving 65 yards in nine plays and capped by Ettlin’s 31-yard breakaway touchdown right up the gut.
Davis answered with a drive of its own, after starting from the Blue Devils’ 27. Blue Devil quarterback Scott Malinoff hit Reese for a 23-yard gain to get things started. But Reese also broke open on a 32-yard run to set up a Malinoff touchdown from 1-yard out. The score brought things within 21-14, but Nevada Union responded by once again putting the Blue Devils two scores down.
The Miners drove 76 yards in 10 plays, including the final four on the legs of Ettlin, who scored from two yards out for a 27-14 margin.
Ettlin racked up 40 yards in the drive, but the biggest play came on third-and-9 at NU’s 25-yard line. Mason, who had returned after his X-rays at a nearby hospital were negative for a break, dropped back and lofted a spiral over the left side of the Davis secondary.
NU’s Colin Casey went horizontal for the catch, reeling in the ball on a diving effort that netted the Miners’ 33 passing yards on the night.
“What an amazing catch by Colin,” said Humphers. “And I didn’t know a hospital could move that fast. They must have taken Chad through the drive-thru.”
“I’ve also got to give credit to our defense. They came to play tonight.”
A trio of Miners ended the game with nine tackles each, including Jantz (five solo stops), Niederberger (six solo) and Tucker Colomb (six solo).
JV: Nevada Union 18, Davis 6
Cory George scored on a 20-yard run and intercepted a pass to help Nevada Union’s junior varsity to an 18-6 win over host Davis Friday night.
Jacob Gonzales also scored on a 12-yard pass from John Wivholm, while Grant McGinnis returned a fumble recovery 60 yards for a Nevada Union touchdown.
The win moved the Miners to 5-4 overall and 3-1 in Delta Valley Conference action.
“We’re just pratying Franklin beats Elk Grove next week,” said NU junior varsity coach Troy Spangler. “If that happens we’ll have a three-way tie for first place, because we beat Franklin and Elk Grove beat us.”
Nevada Union’s JV defense limited Davis to 58 rushing yards and 98 passing yards on the night.
Colby Hicks also had an interception for the Miners.
Miners 33, Blue Devils 0
Nevada Union’s Drew Hoskin scored three touchdowns and Broughan Jantz threw for two more as the Miners shut out the Blue Devils on Thursday in their regular season finale.
Despite racking up 10 penalties, the Miners defense was able to shut down the Blue Devils offense.
Eric Niederberger caught one of Jantz’s two TD passes and Daniel Agnes scored another.
The freshmen squad can capture a share of the co-championship if Franklin beats Elk Grove on Thursday.
The freshmen are 56-9-1 in the last seven years.
Nevada Union 27, Davis 21
NU (6-3) 0 14 13 0 – 27
D (4-5) 7 0 7 7 – 21
D – Josh Reese 7 run (Eric Stenson kick)
NU – Steele Jantz 2 run (Kick failed)
NU – Andrew Metroka 12 run (Jesse Ettlin run)
NU – Ettlin 31 run (Kyle Bielen kick)
D – Scott Malinoff 1 run (Stenson kick)
NU – Ettlin 2 run (Kick failed)
D – Chris Lundin 12 pass from Malinoff (Stenson kick)
First downs 16 14
Rushes-yards 47-284 34-121
Passing 33 121
Comp-Att-Int 1-4-0 11-20-0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties 8-67 7-55
Rushing – Nevada Union, Metroka 7-28, Ettlin 19-158, Dave Zealear 16-92, Chad Mason 1-(minus 5), Jantz 2-8, Doug Dolan 1-(minus 3), Matt Anderson 1-6. Davis, Reese 20-95, Malinoff 12-23, Jake Lubisch 2-3.
Passing – Nevada Union, Mason 1-4-0 for 33 yards. Davis, Malinoff 11-20-0 for 121 yards and a TD.
Receiving – Nevada Union, Colin Casey 1-33. Davis, Dan Johnson 3-18, Lundin 3-43, Brian Sorenson 1-9, Reese 2-26, Mauricio Davidson 2-25.
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