PREP FOOTBALL: Miners come up short against Placer in league opener(PHOTO GALLERY) | TheUnion.com

PREP FOOTBALL: Miners come up short against Placer in league opener(PHOTO GALLERY)

The Miners put forth a valiant effort Friday night but came up short against the defending Foothill Valley League champs, falling to the Placer Hillmen, 28-14, at Hooper Stadium.

“I’m proud of our kids,” said Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks, whose team had its four-game winning streak snapped. “They battled. They played hard,”

It was a hard-fought battle throughout, but early mistakes proved costly for the Miners, who threw an interception on their opening drive and fumbled away the ball on their second offensive possession.

Placer made them pay after the fumble, scoring on a 1-yard run from senior fullback Hans Grassmann to go up 6-0.

“The biggest thing that hurt us tonight was our first two possessions,” Sparks said. “We gave them the ball, and that was pivotal for us. If we fix those mistakes, the score is a little bit different. You just can’t turn the ball over to a great football team.”

The Miners (4-2, 0-1 FVL) failed to score twice on drives inside Placer’s 30-yard line in the first half, but finally broke through in the second quarter. On fourth down and with 19 yards to go, running back Jaxon Horne took a pitch from the quarterback, sprinted to the edge before pulling up and tossing a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Dal Bon which put the Miners up 7-6 just before halftime.

After the break, the Hillmen made some adjustments and went to work on the ground. Placer pounded out a 10-play, 80-yard drive using only run plays, and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown plunge up the middle by Grassmann. The senior fullback came into the game averaging 155 yards per game, but was held to 93 yards on 21 carries by the Miners.

The Hillmen (4-2, 1-0 FVL) pushed their lead to 21-7 on their next drive when junior quarterback Martin Haswell hit Logan Groth on a play-action pass which fooled NU’s defense and went for a 51-yard touchdown.

The Miners answered back with passing score of their own. This time it was NU’s junior quarterback J.T. Conway finding Horne over the middle for a 23-yard score in the fourth quarter, capping a 14-play 71-yard drive.

Long drives was the theme of the second half and the Hillmen had one more left in them, and it salted the game away. Placer reeled off a 14-play, 84-yard drive that took more than six minutes and ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Dylan Logelin.

“Hats off to Nevada Union. Their kids played very, very hard tonight, the coaches had a great game plan and they gave us everything they had,” said Placer head coach Joey Montoya. “Second half, we made the necessary adjustments that we needed to do, and we were able to pull out a gritty win tonight.”

Despite the loss, Sparks said he was proud of the way his team played.

“I don’t think people are going to underestimate us anymore,” he said. “I think we showed we can play with the best. I like where we’re going. I’m proud of our kids, proud of the offensive line, proud of J.T. (Conway) and I’m proud of that defense, because they absolutely played their tails off.”

Horne was a standout for the NU offense. In addition to throwing for a touchdown, he rushed 26 times for 104 yards, caught five passes for 84 yards and a touchdown and had a long return on a kickoff.

Senior fullback Tino Sanchez-Lane also ran the ball well, finishing with 72 yards on 12 carries.

Conway was 8-of-16 for 94 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night.

Making big plays on the defensive side of the ball was senior linebacker Duke Morales, who tallied a sack and a forced fumble, which Nathaniel Ward covered. Sanchez-Lane made a big play in the second quarter when he pulled down an interception. The Miners scored on the ensuing possession.

“We’ll do what we always do,” said Sparks, “I’ll tell the kids tonight, ‘hey, dry that tear and tomorrow morning get ready for Oakmont. Let’s go on the road and let’s get our first league win.”

AROUND THE FVL

League play kicked off for all six FVL teams on Friday. In other league action, the Rio Linda Knights (5-1, 1-0) held on to beat Ponderosa (3-3, 1-1), 37-34. And, the Lincoln Fighting Zebras (4-2, 1-0) scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to top Oakmont (5-1, 0-1), 28-17.

PRACTICE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Nevada Union’s Tractor Supply Practice Players of the Week are Conway, David Rueckert and Landon Low. The Special Teams Player of the Week is Sammy Slay.

NEXT UP

After three straight weeks at home, the Miners hit the road next Friday to face Oakmont. A season ago, the Vikings beat NU, 29-20.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

HILLMEN 28, MINERS 14

FIRST QUARTER

P: Hans Grassmann 1-yard run (Alex Bohn kick) 7:01

SECOND QUARTER

NU: Matt Dal Bon 26-yard pass from Jaxon Horne (Moises Tovar kick) 3:12

THIRD QUARTER

P: Grassmann 1-yard run (2-point try good) 7:07

P: Logan Groth 51-yard pass from Martin Haswell (Bohn kick) 5:21

FOURTH QUARTER

NU: Horne 23-yard pass from J.T. Conway (Tovar kick) 10:33

P: Dylan Logelin 5-yard run (Bohn kick) 4:08


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