Nevada Union crumbles in 2nd half, falls to Pleasant Grove
It was a tale of two halves Friday night at Hooper Stadium.
The first half saw the Nevada Union Miners and the Pleasant Grove Eagles battle to a 21-21 tie. The second half was when the Eagles took off with the game.
Pleasant Grove tallied 35 straight points from the end of the second quarter on to beat NU, 49-21, in the Miners’ home opener.
“We had a really good first half, I was really happy with it,” said NU head coach Dennis Houlihan. “But, we came out flat in the second half and that concerns me a little bit. Turnovers really hurt. The three turnovers turned into three scores and that really hurt.”
The Miners lost four fumbles all together and three in the second half.
Nevada Union was humming along in the first half and grabbed a 21-14 edge on a halfback pass from Travis Owens to Drew Daniels with less than 40 seconds left before the break, but then the wheels came off for the Miners.
After a decent kick return, Pleasant Grove drove the length of the field in less than 30 seconds and hit on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jake Ford to Sedrick Thomas to knot the game at 21-21.
The Miners defense opened the second half strong, forcing the Eagles to punt, but the kick was muffed by NU, setting up Pleasant Grove in Miner territory. The Eagles’ Damaree Morris would punch it into the end zone a couple plays later from 4-yards out.
Two plays into the Miners next possession, they again coughed the ball up and again Morris made them pay. The senior back scored on an 11-yard touchdown run in which he carried several Miners into the end zone with him.
Morris finished the game with 119 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.
With a 35-21 lead heading into the fourth, Pleasant Grove put the game away with a 95-yard touchdown pass. It was Ford’s third through the air. The junior signal caller finished the night with 324 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-17 passing attempts.
NU’s junior quarterback Justus Spillner did not fare as well, completing 6-of-21 passes for 111 yards and no touchdowns. Junior receiver Daniels led NU in catches with five for 98 yards and a touchdown on the halfback pass play.
NU did most of its damage with the run game as Mo Nieves went over the century mark for the second straight game, eating up 139 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run. Nieves did most of his work in the first half with 121 through the first two quarters and only 18 yards in the second half. Travis Owens was also effective on the ground with 86 yards on 12 carries. Owens also ignited the crowd in the second quarter with a 90-yard kick return for a touchdown.
The Miners defense played well in the first half, grabbing two interceptions and sacking the quarterback five times, but forced no turnovers in the second half, and sacked the quarterback only once down the stretch.
“I thought our defense got a little tired,” Houlihan said. “They wore us down and then hit on some big plays. But, we are going to have to go against speed and size in our league so it was good to see how we matched up. We played hard for a half and now we have to to put it together for a complete game.”
Senior linebacker Josh Belendez again led the defense with 18 tackles and two sacks. Fellow senior backer Joe Ten-Eyck had 12 tackles and an interception that halted the Eagles when they were in the red zone. Chase Frey, Colton Barker, Caleb Patterson and Enzo Arata also tallied sacks in the game. For the Miners the loss extends their home losing streak to eight games, dating back to 2012.
“The good thing is you learn from losses and we did compete so that’s a plus and we will move forward with that,” Houlihan said.
The Miners (1-1) hit the road next week to face Lincoln.
JV: Pleasant Grove 14, Nevada Union 0
The Miners dropped their second straight game in which they were tied at halftime. After taking the game to the break even at 0-0, the Miners yielded 14 points to the Eagles to drop to 0-2 on the season.
The Miners were tied 7-7 with Placer last week before falling 20-7.
Defensively for NU, Nick Whittlesey led the team with 12 tackles, Grady McCuen wrapped up eight tackles and recovered a fumble, and Forrest Moore also had eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Gary Menary grabbed a second half interception in the loss.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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