PREP FOOTBALL: Miners fall to Yuba City in season opener (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
On a night when Nevada Union’s offense struggled to get much going, the defense did all it could to keep them in the game, but it wasn’t enough.
Nevada Union kicked off the 2019 season with 31-12 loss to Yuba City Friday night at Hooper Stadium, marking the fifth straight year the Miners have lost their season opener.
“They played hard,” Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks said of his team’s effort. “(Yuba City) is a good football team and we went toe-to-toe with them for quite a while.”
The Honkers from Yuba City didn’t wait long to start squawking and got on the board first with a 27-yard field goal. Yuba City had marched down to the Miners’ 1-yard line, but NU’s defense came up with two straight tackles for a loss, one by senior defensive end Matthew Dal Bon and another by linebacker Duke Morales, to force Yuba City’s kicker into action.
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The Miners grabbed their first and only lead of the game late in the first quarter, when Dal Bon scooped up a fumble on a botched pitch play and rumbled 22-yards for the score. NU missed the extra point, but took a 6-3 lead into the second quarter.
It didn’t take long for the Miners to repay the favor, though, as Yuba City scooped up an NU fumble early in the second quarter and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Honkers took a 10-6 edge into halftime and came out hot in the third quarter. Yuba City continually pounded the middle of NU’s defense resulting in a pair of rushing scores and a 24-6 third quarter lead.
Nevada Union responded in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard touchdown scamper by Jaxon Horne to make it 24-12. Horne led all NU ball carriers with 75 rush yards and the one score.
NU’s Tino Sanchez-Lane added 40 rush yards and 18 receiving yards, but not much else worked for the Miners offense Friday night. Through the air, junior quarterback J.T. Conway was 6-for-14 for 26 yards and an interception. Sophomore quarterback Gabe Baker was 1-for-4. Baker, who took over for Conway midway through the third quarter, was able to make some plays as a runner.
“They’re young and they are learning,” said Sparks. “The world is moving so much faster for them now. I know we’re going to clean things up and these guys are going to get better.”
The Honkers put the game out of reach with a 60-yard fourth quarter touchdown run by Takeshi Faupula, who topped 100 yards and scored twice on the night.
While the Miners struggled to slow the Honkers run game at times, they were downright stingy against the pass, allowing just one completion for eight yards in nine attempts.
“I have to tip my hat to (defensive coordinator) Jim Rubiales and that defense,” said Sparks. “They kept us in the game.”
Morales led the NU defense with 11 tackles, a sack and a fumbe recovery. Horne followed with eight tackles. A.J. Meyer wrapped up seven. Dal Bon and Baker each finished with six.
“We are much improved, but we have a ways to go,” said Sparks. “I’m pleased with what I saw tonight. We just got to clean some things up on offense.”
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Most of the lights at Hooper Stadium went out midway through the third quarter. It took about 15 minutes for the powers that be at Nevada Union to rectify the situation. It didn’t seem to adversely effect the Honkers though as they busted off a 22-yard touchdown run shortly after lights came back on and play resumed.
SEASON OPENING WOES
The last time the Miners won a season opener was 2014 when they topped Placer, 41-20. The Miners are 3-7 in openers since 2010.
NEW LOOK MINERS
The Miners looked quite a bit different than in years past, sporting gold jerseys, gold pants and a new decal design on their helmets. They ditched the wing decals and now have stripes running down the center with an NU emblem on the left side of the helmet.
Nevada Union (0-1) hits the road for a bout with Napa (1-0) Aug. 30. Last season, the Miners topped the Grizzlies, 59-34. Napa beat Middletown, 32-13 in their season opener.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCORE BY QUARTER
YC: #30 27-yard field goal 5:12
NU: Matt Dal Bon 22-yard fumble return (extra point no good) 2:27
YC: Emiliano Murillo 16-yard fumble return (#30 kick) 9:45
YC: Gehrig Larrigan 8-yard run (#30 kick) 8:52
YC: Takeshi Faupula 22-yard run (#30 kick) 5:27
NU: Jaxon Horne 19-yard run (2-point try no good) 8:40
YC: Faupula 60-yard run (#30 kick) 2:27
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