‘It just means so much’: Miners beat Ponderosa, snap league losing streak (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
After years of struggle, the Miners finally broke through and struck gold in league play.
Behind an impressive defensive effort, Nevada Union’s football team knocked off Foothill Valley League foe Ponderosa, 20-7, Friday night and in the process snapped a 38-game league losing streak which dated back to 2012.
“I’ll be honest with you, besides marrying my beautiful wife and having all my children, this is up there. This really is,” Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks said after his team’s win at Hooper Stadium. “I’m just so proud of our kids and our coaches.”
The Miners (5-3, 1-2 FVL) shined on defense, holding the Bruins (4-4, 1-2 FVL) to just one score a week after they put up 35-points in a win over Lincoln.
Leading the effort was defensive end Matt Dal Bon, who tallied two sacks in the victory.
“The last four years I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn, coming here and working out, putting in all the work, and its been 38 games since we won a league game. It just means so much,” said Dal Bon, who was honored with the rest of the team’s seniors before the game.
Nevada Union got on the board first when senior running back Jeremy Nettles plowed into the end zone from 4-yards out. The scoring scamper was set up by a 65-yard pass play from quarterback J.T. Conway to running back Jaxon Horne.
The Miners made it 14-0 in the second quarter after a failed fake punt by Ponderosa set NU up on the 21-yard line. Horne scored on the following play, making one hard cut at the line of scrimmage and darting in from 21-yards out.
Ponderosa cut into the Miners’ lead in the fourth quarter when quarterback Ty Uber found receiver Jackson Hubert for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
Clinging to a one score lead in the fourth quarter, the Miners took over on their own 27-yard line and pieced together a 13-play, 73-yard scoring drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Conway to Tino Sanchez-Lane. On the play, Conway found Sanchez-Lane in the flats, and the powerful fullback did the rest, turning upfield and diving over the pylon for the score.
Senior center David Rueckert said the mindset was simple on the game-clinching drive.
“Buckle down, and we need to get to the other side and score,” said Rueckert, noting that he and the rest of the offensive line, “worked our tails off tonight. We did something special and I just love them.”
With the clock ticking down, Ponderosa moved quickly into scoring position, but NU defensive back A.J. Meyer put an end to any comeback attempt when he pulled down an interception in the end zone with a little more than two minutes left in the game.
“I was just hanging, helping Zach (Ehrlich) out. I didn’t really have anyone to cover and was just playing a zone, and Zach made a great play to tip it, and it came right into my hands,” said Meyer, a senior in his third year at the varsity level. “I feel amazing right now. I’m sure these guys do too.”
Meyer also had a sack in the game, and was one of three Miners to pull down interceptions. Sanchez-Lane and Horne both nabbed first quarter picks.
While NU’s secondary held Ponderosa to 223 pass yards on 15-of-31 passes, their linebackers and defensive front were also strong and held the Bruins run game in check, allowing just 77 yards on 31 rushes.
“Our defense is just something else,” said Dal Bon. “We all fly to the ball. We’re physical, there’s not a single one of those guys I don’t believe in. It’s unreal. We’re a helluva squad.”
Linebackers Duke Morales and Gabe Baker, along defensive linemen Nathaniel Ward, Landon Low, Jon Patterson, Sammy Slay and Isaiah Carter stuffed the Ponderosa run game all night.
“I don’t know what to say except for wow,” said Sparks of his team’s defensive effort. “Fantastic… All of them, every single one of them, fantastic job tonight.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Miners got the job done. Horne led all rushers with 22 carries for 112 yards. He also tallied 95 receiving yards on three catches.
Conway finished the night 4-for-9 for 107 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
“I’m really proud of J.T.,” said Sparks. “He did a great job. Managed the game well. Did exactly what I needed him to do, and we won the ball game.”
The victory moves the Miners into a four-way tie for third place in the FVL. Placer (6-2, 3-0 FVL) remains atop the standings after a 17-7 win over Oakmont (6-2, 1-2 FVL). Rio Linda (6-2, 2-1 FVL) is in second place after a 28-14 win over Lincoln (4-4, 1-2 FVL).
IT’s BEEN AWHILE
Before Friday night’s victory, the Miners last league win came in the Sierra Foothill League, when they beat Roseville, 52-19, Oct. 19, 2012.
The Miners are on the road for their final two league games. They are at Lincoln next Friday, and travel to Rio Linda to face the Knights in the regular season finale Nov. 1.
PRACTICE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
The Tractor Supply Practice Players of the Week were Patterson and Low.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4232.
SCORE BY QUARTER
MINERS 20, BRUINS 7
NU: Jeremy Nettles 4-yard run (PAT missed) :27
NU: Jaxon Horne 21-yard run (2-point conversion good) 6:58
P: Jackson Hubert 50-yard pass from Ty Uber (kick good) 9:34
NU: Tino Sanchez-Lane 12-yard pass from J.T. Conway (PAT missed) 3:12
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