SACRAMENTO – With their crisp white uniforms and single-file, slow strut, Nevada Union’s football players strolled into the hostile territory of Grant’s football stadium before their Metro Conference showdown like they owned the joint.
After the dust settled – and fog lifted – they did.
The Miners, who went into their regular season finale undefeated and tied with the hosts for first place in the Metro, came out on the high side of the wild affair for a 43-40 win and the league crown.
“Our offense really played well the entire night, but it was the defense that stood up in the second half and decided to conquer them,” NU head coach Dave Humphers said. “I have overwhelming pride in our team tonight. It was just a fabulous effort by everybody.”
The win not only gives NU the league title but also a home first-round playoff game.
NU will host the Delta League No. 2 team, either Laguna Creek or old foe Elk Grove, at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Miners (10-0 overall, 6-0 league) drew blood on their first play from scrimmage.
NU senior wide receiver Joe Dolan, who entered the game as the Metro Conference’s leading receiver with 700 yards on 28 catches, beat Pacer cornerback Syd Thompson deep up the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown pass from Jon Sheets.
The Pacers gave the hosts a fight, C.J. Wallace answered with a one yard touchdown plunge as the teams traded the lead seven times throughout the game.
While NU’s offense shredded the league’s top-rated defense with a mix of pass and run, its defense put a hurt on the high-powered Pacer offense.
Grant (9-1, 5-1) put 28 points on the board in the first half, were outscored 14-0 in the third quarter.
“Our defense played great. The stopped Grant when we needed it,” NU senior halfback Joey Bratton said.
Down 28-22 at the half, Sheets sparked the comeback with a two-yard run late in the third. Running back Ryan Herrera, who was called up from the junior varsity, scored one of his game-high three touchdowns on NU’s next possession to put the visitors ahead for good.
Nevada Union 43, Grant 40
N- Joe Dolan 38 pass from Jon Sheets (pass failed), 10:10
G – C.J. Wallace 1 run, (Michael Houar kick), 5:11.
N – Ryan Herrera 1 run, (Kyle McTighe kick), 11:53.
G – Syd Thompson 99 kickoff return (Houar kick), 11:39.
N – Herrera 29 run (pass failed), 8:27.
G- Wallace 11 run (Houar kick), 2:49.
G – Worrelll Williams 34 INT return, (Houar kick), 2:07.
N – McTighe 46 FG, 8.1
N- Sheets 2 run, (McTighe kick), 7:02.
N – Herrera 11 run, (McTighe kick), 1:58.
G – Walllace 2 run (run failed), 7:02.
N- Chris Thibodeau 6 run, (McTighe kick), 1:34.
G – Virgil Johnson 6 pass from Williams (kick blocked), 50.3.
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The Nevada Union Junior Miners Football and Cheer teams traveled on Saturday to Casa Roble High School in Orangevale to play the Casa Roble Junior Rams in Sacramento Youth Football League action.