NU’s strong second half vaults team to playoffs
SACRAMENTO – Nevada Union nailed down a playoff berth with 41-28 win over Valley Thursday night, after the Miners took control of game in which at one point Valley held a lead.
But only briefly.
When Chad Mason took over as NU’s quarterback just before halftime, Valley had a seven-point advantage at 20-13.
But on Mason’s first snap under center, the senior brought the Miners to Valley’s 13-yard line with a 25-yard pass to Steele Jantz, who had started the game at quarterback in place of Mason, who was injured last week.
Mason lofted a pass to Doug Dolan in the back right corner of the end zone on the next play, but Dolan was ruled out-of-bounds, leaving NU 13 yards from the end zone with 6.6 seconds left in the half.
Rather than kick a field goal, Miners coach Dave Humphers took a shot at six points with the same play, but this time it was Jantz who caught Mason’s pass, and this time the catch was in bounds.
“We debated on kicking a field goal,” Miners coach Dave Humphers said. “But we needed to recapture momentum.
“We felt like we had the play that could score.”
Nevada Union (7-3 overall, 3-2 Delta Valley Conference) did regain momentum heading into halftime, and in the second half the Miners used it to score three-straight touchdowns, giving NU a 41-20 lead.
Mason suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s win at Davis, but was healthy enough suit up for Thursday’s regular-season finale at Cosumnes River College.
He entered the game after Jantz’s second interception was negated by a Valley penalty.
“I go to coach, ‘I’m ready,'” Mason said. “And he said, ‘Good, ’cause I was about to put you in.”
Mason played the rest of the way, finishing 3-of-6 for 73 yards.
Following the game, he said he was in pain, although his limp was barely noticeable.
While it was Mason who sparked the quick comeback, the Miners’ running pounded the Vikings for 314 yards and five touchdowns.
Dave Zealear finished with 154 yards and two touchdowns, Andrew Metroka had 97 yards and one touchdown, and Jesse Ettlin gave the Miners a 13-0 lead early with his two touchdowns. Ettlin finished with 64 yards.
“Chad threw the ball really well,” Humphers said. “We ran well. The execution was really good.”
Humphers also praised the defense, which recovered in the second half to limit Valley (3-6 overall, 0-5 DVC) to just one touchdown, which didn’t come until 49 seconds were left in the game and NU had a 21-point lead.
In the first half, the Vikings’ running game was equally potent, led by Andre Miller.
Following Ettlin’s two scores, Miller took in touchdowns of 45 and five yards to cut NU’s lead to 13-12.
Thirty-four seconds after Miller’s second touchdown, which came with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the half, Valley quarterback Joe Pollard completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Josh Dillard, capped by a two-yard run by Miller for the two-point conversion.
Valley’s second score in less than a minute was set up by Israel Price, who intercepted Jantz’s pass at the Vikings’ 45-yard line and took it 10 yards into NU territory.
Pollard finished 7-of-11 for 123 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted by Brian Milhous in the first half.
The win gave NU its first back-to-back triumphs in DVC play.
The Miners will travel next Friday to Vacaville for the first round of the playoffs.
JV: Nevada Union 20, Valley 13
Nevada Union’s Jared Ralph, Juan Espinosa and Cory George each ran for touchdowns Thursday in Sacramento, where the Miners closed the season 6-4 overall and 4-1 in the Delta Valley Conference.
NU started the season 1-3.
“The team came together after a little rust spot,” NU co-head coach Mitch Giles said.
Jordan Mosbarger led Nevada Union’s defense in the win, grabbing three sacks for a combined loss of 15 yards.
The Miners still have a shot at a share of the DVC championship, but it comes down to which teams win tonight.
To contact sports writer Jeff Miller, call 477-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miners 41, Vikings 28
Nevada Union (7-3) 6 14 14 7 – 41
Valleh (3-6) 0 20 0 8 – 28
NU – Jesse Ettlin 2 run (Kick blocked), 5:21.
NU – Jesse Ettlin 3 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 9:24.
V – Andre Miller 5 run (run failed), 5:43.
V – Andre Miller 45 run (run failed), 5:09.
V – Joe Pollard 48 pass to Josh Dillard (Andre Miller 2 run), 2:10.
NU – Chad Mason 13 pass to Steele Jantz (Kyle Bielen kick), :2.2.
NU – Dave Zealear 19 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 9:07.
NU – Dave Zealear 30 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 1:29.
NU – Andrew Metroka 19 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 3:19.
V – Joe Pollard 15 pass to Deonte’ Williams (Joe Pollard 2 pass to Josh
First downs 17 11
Rushes-yards 51-314 37-209
Passing 73 145
Comp-Att-Int 3-8-1 9-15-1
Penalties 3-19 8-55
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Rushing – Nevada Union, Dave Zealear 20-154 and 2 TD, Andrew Metroka 12-97 and 1 TD, Jesse Ettlin 15-64 and 2 TD, Steele Jantz 3-7, Chad Mason 1-(minus 8). Valley, Andre Miller 19-161 and 2 TD, Derrick Stephens 7-27, Deonte’ Williams 3-10, Joe Pollard 3-6, Malachi Riley 2-3, Josh Dillard 1-2, Nick Harris 2-0.
Passing – Nevada Union, Chad Mason 3-6-0 for 73 yards and 1 TD, Steele Jantz 0-2-1. Valley, Joe Pollard 7-11-1 for 123 yards and 2 TD, Malachi Riley 2-4-0 for 22 yards.
Receiving – Nevada Union, Steele Jantz 2-38 and 1 TD, Doug Dolan 1-35. Valley, Josh Dillard 6-97 and 1 TD, Deonte’ Williams 2-45 and 1 TD, Derrick Stephens 1-3.
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