PREP FOOTBALL: Miners fall to Vanden in 1st round of playoffs (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
FAIRFIELD — The Miners’ resurgent season came to a close Friday night in Fairfield.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks said after his team’s playoff loss to Vanden. “They’ve come a long way to finish the season 5-6. To win as many games as they did and to win the way they did, I’m really proud of that. It’s something to build off of.”
Nevada Union’s return to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, after a six season hiatus, was short lived as the No. 9 seeded Miners fell behind early and never recovered, losing 56-14 to the No. 8 Vanden Vikings in a Division 4 first round matchup.
Competing at George A. Gammon Field, the Vikings scored on their first four possessions, getting two touchdowns on the ground, one through the air and another on a fumble recovery scoop and score.
“We let it slip through those hands early,” Sparks said.
The Miners answered back with a 1-yard scoring plunge by senior Matt Dal Bon, which snapped a nine-quarter touchdown drought for NU.
But, the Vikings tacked on two more second quarter touchdowns and went into the break up 42-7.
Vanden poured it on in the third quarter as Vikings quarterback Jordan Woolard connected on his third touchdown pass of the game
The Miners got a boost of energy from A.J. Meyer, who returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. It was the second return for a score by Meyer this year. The senior also came up with a 22-yard pass reception and an interception in the game.
Meyer is one of a large class of seniors who wrapped up their high school football careers for the Miners Friday night.
Sparks praised his group of seniors for leading the program back to the playoffs and setting a good example for the younger players.
“They’re the reason we are here right now,” Sparks said. “They are tough as nails, hard-nosed kids, that fought through adversity. To deal with what this program has dealt with in two years is unbelievable and they just keep fighting. The example they have left for the younger kids is immeasurable. It’s awesome.”
Other standouts for NU were junior running back Jaxon Horne, who rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries. Horne finished the season with 1,046 rush yards and 18 total touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Gabe Baker added 37 rush yards to go with 24 pass yards on a night when he was under immense pressure almost every time he dropped back to pass.
For the Miners (5-6), the loss concludes a season in which they snapped a 38-game league losing streak, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
“Nevada Union is a special place,” said Sparks. “It’s got this great history. It’s a great community. It’s a great school. I’ve got great administrators and the kids there are fantastic. They are still that blue collar group of kids and they just fight. They’re not done fighting. I think they had lost some fight in some years, and I think we’re working on getting some of that fight back. I’m looking forward to the future at Nevada Union.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
SCORE BY QUARTER
VIKINGS 56, MINERS 14
V: Linairus Agee 3-yard run (PAT good) 7:21
V: Kurt Gandy 34-yard pass from Jordan Woolard (PAT missed) 2:54
V: Malakhi Demoss 38-yard run (2-point try good) 11:51
V: Jonah Ramos 56-yard fumble return (PAT good) 11:35
NU: Matt Dal Bon 1-yard run (Moises Tovar kick) 6:34
V: Demoss 66-yard run (PAT good) 6:01
V: Johnte McDowell 30-yard pass from Woolard (PAT good) :19
V: Gandy 11-yard pass from Woolard (PAT good) :55
NU: A.J. Meyer 80-yard kickoff return (Tovar kick) :43
V: Demoss 15-yard run (PAT good) 7:47
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