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Football: Miners close season with lopsided loss to Rocklin

Nevada Union ‘s Mo Nieves runs around the edge to evade Rocklin defenders in both teams’ regular-season finale on Friday night. The Miners fell 44-21 at Hooper Stadium to close out the season 3-7 overall.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Thunder 44, Nevada Union 21

First quarter

R: Gage Sorenson 69-yard pass from William Floyd (8:19) kick no good

R: Safety (6:38)

R: Brady Mays 9-yard pass from Floyd (2:41) 2-point conversion good

Second quarter

NU: Travis Owens 35-yard run (6:58) 2-point conversion no good

R: Blake Laurin 2-yard pass from Floyd (3:44) kick good

NU: Owens 3-yard run (0:19) Logan Siemers kick good

Third quarter

R: Mays 11-yard pass from Floyd (5:49) kick good

R: Wesley Preece 39-yard pass from Floyd (3:28) kick good

Fourth quarter

R: Sean Gruber 27-yard run (11:28) kick good

NU: Owens 3-yard run (6:46) 2-point conversion good

The Nevada Union football team closed the 2014 season with their sixth straight loss, falling to the playoff-bound Rocklin Thunder, 44-21, Friday at Hooper Stadium.

“This game seemed to be about the same as the other (Sierra Foothill League) games,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “We play hard for a half, but then we get tired and fall apart and they build their lead, and we can’t hang around. But, you can’t question their effort all year long, you can not question their heart, they are one of the better close knit groups I’ve ever had.”

Rocklin scored on their first possession, hitting on a 69-yard bomb to Gage Sorenson to go up 6-0. A NU safety and another passing touchdown later, the Thunder had built a 16-0 first quarter edge.



The Miners responded with a misdirection play that sprung senior running back Travis Owens for a 35-yard touchdown. On the play, Owens took the handoff, beat the defender to the edge, turned upfield and sprinted in for the score. Owens finished with 66 yards rushing and a season-high three touchdowns in the game.

The team captain closes his senior campaign with 970 yards rushing and six ground touchdowns. He also tallied 20 receptions for 179 yards.




“I played my junior midget year for Bear River and I remember coming to play at NU my midget year and they all gave me beef, a lot of them didn’t like me in the beginning, but after a while we became brothers,” Owens recalled. “This year has meant a lot to me, regardless of the way the season went, regardless of the score and the record, we are a brotherhood and we just love to play football.”

Nevada Union ate up 275 yards rushing in the game, getting a team-high 105 from senior running back Mo Nieves. Nieves concludes the season as the SFL’s leading rusher with 1,139 yards to go with 15 touchdowns.

“With so much effort and hard work our team put in it hurts to go 3-7,” Nieves said. “But I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved every minute of it. I’m going to cherish it for the rest of my life and I love these guys.”

While the Miners had their run game going, it was no match for Rocklin’s passing attack. Thunder quarterback William Floyd was an impressive 14-for-15 in the first half with three touchdowns. He would finish the night 22-for-32 for 299 yards and five passing touchdowns.

The Thunder took a 23-13 lead into the break and tallied two more scores in the third quarter and put it away with a 27-yard touchdown run by Sean Gruber in the fourth quarter.

It was senior night at NU, and the Miners honored their senior players, cheerleaders and members of the training staff before the game.

“I’m really proud of the seniors playing their last game here tonight,” said Houlihan. “It was very emotional for them in the pre-game. I’m really happy with their efforts the entire season. I’m going to miss them all, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. They mean a lot to me. They listened to everything we said, they did everything we asked and they bought into what we were doing, and I’m going to miss them tremendously.”

NU said goodbye to key senior players such as Josh Belendez, Joe Ten-Eyck, Isaac Rodriguez, Colton Barker, Dylan Pfadt, Enzo Arata, Tyler Droivold, J.D Atkinson, Chase Frey, Nick Shust, Tim Rubino, John Greene, Nick McFall and Matt Cross.

The Miner faithful that stuck the game out to the end got a glimpse at the future as junior running backs Jarek Steffan and Conner Stafford looked good in garbage time. Freshman Justin Houlihan even made an impact with 35 yards rushing on offense and a fumble recovery on defense.

The loss was Nevada Union’s 13th straight SFL defeat. The last time the Miners won an SFL game was Oct. 19, 2012, when they beat Roseville 52-19. Roseville is no longer in the SFL, moving to the Capital Valley Conference this year to make room for Folsom and Oak Ridge.

JV: Rocklin 48, Nevada Union 7

The Nevada Union junior varsity football team fell to the Thunder as well.

The lopsided loss dropped the Miners to 1-9 this season.

Nevada Union quarterback Jonathan Weaver did have a strong second half, and finished the game with 140 yards passing and one rushing touchdown.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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