Miners made it easy as 1-2-3 | TheUnion.com

Miners made it easy as 1-2-3

John HartNevada Union's Chris Thibodeau (right) returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown Friday.
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Nevada Union football coach Mike Humphers said that if it were not for turnovers and penalties, the Miners could have scored 60 or 70 points in its season-opening win over Merced.

Last Friday, NU displayed the same kind of quick-strike explosiveness against Vintage, scoring touchdowns the first two times it touched the ball in the first quarter, and the first time it touched the ball in the second half.

In fact, many of the common statistical yard markers of a team’s success went right out the window in NU’s 45-19 preseason win over Vintage. Time of possession and first downs favored Vintage heavily in the first half, but the Miners wiped out their importance as easily as one-two-three.

1. Opening kickoff: On the first play of the game, deep back Chris Thibodeau faked to teammate Vu Pham and turned the corner, never to be caught. The 99-yard touchdown run took 16 seconds of clock time, and immediately had the Crushers in a hole from which they would not recover.

2. Punt returns: NU’s third touchdown was set up by a 40-yard punt return by Jason Snavely, who was sprung by a Travis Toll bone-jarring block that was reminiscent of a punt return pancake block Toll had during the Miners’ scrimmage against St. Mary’s of Stockton two weeks earlier.

“I think those blocks say a lot about Travis,” NU assistant coach Joey Montoya said. “He really prides himself on those kind of blocks and looks forward to giving those kind of hits. Whenever you see a big hit like that, it can be a momentum changer that gets the whole team fired up.”

A 35-yard punt return early in the third quarter set up a touchdown that gave NU a 35-0 lead, all but putting the game in the books.

“We really pride ourselves on having great special teams,” Montoya said. “We challenge the kids about how there are three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams – and we expect them to make big plays.”

3. Big-play offense: NU showed the wing-T can be more than a ball-control offense Friday, scoring on two long touchdown passes from Jon Sheets to Joe Dolan in the first half.

Though Vintage outgained the Miners in the contest, with back Marc Carducci outrushing NU’s entire backfield, NU used its gains wisely, virtually putting the game out of reach when Pham scored from 14 yards out on the first play of the scrimmage for NU in the second half. It is hard to rack up big statistical numbers when the scoring drives are no drives at all.

“We definitely know we have some talent on the offense, and we keep working on it,” Montoya said. “The reason we knew we could strike fast was because of what we saw on the film, with their safeties up and a couple of other things that we knew we could hurt them with.”

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