PREP FOOTBALL: Miners squander lead, fall to Zebras
ZEBRAS 23, MINERS 22
L: James Sweet 45-yard pass from Tommy Turner (kick no good) 10:06
NU: Dawson Fay 94-yard kickoff return (kick no good) 9:53
NU: Tyler Nielson 1-yard run (2-point try good) 2:32
L: Pete Murillo 17-yard pass from Turner (Brett Woolley kick) :26
NU: Isreal Gonzales 44-yard pass from (2-point try good) 2:17
L: Seth Sampson 2-yard run (Woolley kick) 1:16
L: Woolley 22-yard field goal (6:09)
Much like it has been the past three times Nevada Union and Lincoln have faced off on the gridiron, the game was a battle until the very end.
Despite struggling mightily on the offensive side of the ball, the Miners had a chance to win their second straight at home but couldn’t quite put the game away.
Nevada Union grabbed a nine-point lead with a little more than two minutes left in the third quarter, but Lincoln came back with 10 unanswered points to leave Hooper Stadium with the 23-22 victory.
“They did a good job,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said of Lincoln’s defense. “They took Hayden (Fay) out of the game by double teaming him, one high and one low, they pinched the gaps and it affected us. We weren’t able to move bodies. The yards we got were out on the flank. But they did a good job, they made the plays they needed to.
Nevada Union took a 22-13 lead late in the third quarter when senior quarterback Owen Dal Bon hit a streaking Isreal Gonzlaes for a 44-yard touchdown. It was Dal Bon’s first passing touchdown this season. He would finish the night 7-for-12 for 66 yards and the touchdown.
But, every time Nevada Union (1-2) created a little separation, the Lincoln Fighting Zebras (2-1) were quick to answer.
On the Zebras ensuing drive they quickly got inside the Miners 5-yard line and powered into the end zone to pull Lincoln to within two points at 22-20 with a little more than a minute left in the third.
After NU’s drive failed to yield a first down, Dal Bon placed his sixth of seven punts in the game on the Zebras 5-yard line.
Lincoln was not fazed by the poor field position, marching 90-yards on 19 plays down to NU’s 5-yard line. The Miners would keep the Zebras out of the end zone, but a Brett Woolley field goal put the Zebras up 23-22 with 6:09 left in the game.
The Miners offense would stall again and faced a fourth-and-4 on their next drive. They looked as if they were planning to go for it, but a delay of game penalty followed by a sideline warning penalty pushed them back another 10-yards and they were forced to punt. NU’s offense wouldn’t see the ball again.
Lincoln took over with 4:43 left in the game then reeled off 10 straight run plays to eat up what remained on the clock.
The Zebras were led by quarterback Tommy Turner, who tossed two touchdowns to go with two interceptions. Lincoln’s senior receiver James Sweet was also instrumental in the win, tearing off big plays through the air and on the ground.
“It is frustrating,” said Houlihan. “Our defense played fine, they played well. They just got tired. And, (Lincoln) did a good job of keeping the clock running and moving the ball on us.
“We weren’t winning the line of scrimmage, you could see it and we were giving up big plays on third down.”
The Miners struggled on offense, but their special teams and defense kept them in the game.
Dawson Fay returned a kickoff 94-yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to get NU on the board. Dawson Fay also grabbed a one-handed interception to thwart a third-quarter Lincoln drive. Dawson’s brother Hayden Fay also nabbed an interception, his second in as many games. Top tacklers were Jace Wheeler with 10, Garrett Graves with nine, Dawson Fay with nine and Justin Houlihan with eight tackles.
But NU’s offense never got on track, and Lincoln’s did just enough to pull out the win.
The Zebras ran 99 plays compared to NU’s 50. They out gained NU 533 yards to 141, and tallied 31 first downs to the Miners’ seven.
For the Miners, they tallied a season low 141 yards from scrimmage (66 yards through the air and 75 on the ground).
Hayden Fay, NU’s All-League receiver, was blanketed all game and finished with just two catches for a loss of one yard.
On the ground, Dawson Fay grinded out 34 yards and Tyler Nielson accounted for 26 yards, including 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
RIVALRY IN THE MAKING
Nevada Union and Lincoln have met in non-league play four straight years, splitting those contests 2-2. Each game has been settled by seven points or less, and the road team has won every time. Next year they will be league foes when they both join the newly named Foothill Valley League.
The Miners will now hit the road for their final non-league game of the season against Napa Sept. 15.
“I would like to see both sides of the ball being at their peak at that time,” said Dennis Houlihan. “We got to be able to run our offense. We can’t be stuck not being able to establish the run and have to pass.”
FRESHMEN: NEVADA UNION 38, LINCOLN 34
The freshmen Miners pulled out a thrilling victory over Lincoln in a game that featured four lead changes in the final two minutes.
Nevada Union led the game 26-20 late in the fourth quarter when Lincoln snatched the edge with a rushing touchdown to go up 27-26.
The Miners then marched down the field quickly and capped it with a 21-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Conway to Ayrton Swasey to regain the lead 32-27 with 1:08 left in the game.
Lincoln didn’t wait long to respond, hitting on an 84-yard passing touchdown to go back up 34-32.
Undeterred by the chain of events, the Miners drove down the field and this time Conway found Andrew Gannon for a 22-yard touchdown to once again regain the lead, 38-34, with 27 seconds left in the contest.
Lincoln did not have a response this time, and NU’s Devin Sunde put a cherry on top of the victory with a game-ending sack.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 2021 High School Optimist All Star teams for baseball, softball and boys volleyball have been announced, and several local student-athletes made the cut.