PREP FOOTBALL: Miners run over Napa for first win of season (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
MINERS 59, GRIZZLIES 34
NU: Dawson Fay 53-yard run (Jered Tihista kick) 10:48
NAPA: Seth Ponciano 77-yard pass from Gunner Schoeps (kick good) 9:56
NU: Hayden Lee 1-yard run (Tihista kick) 7:14
NU: Parker Heilaman 1-yard run (kick no good) 5:06
NU: Jaxon Horne 18-yard pass from Heilaman (2-point try no good) 4:21
NAPA: Brock Bowers 72-yard pass from Schoeps (2-point try no good) 3:16
NU: Fay 78-yard run (Moises Tovar kick) :12
NU: Isreal Gonzales 23-yard run (kick no good) 8:00
NAPA: Kalani Posey 90-yard kick return (kick good) 7:45
NU: Fay 25-yard run (Tihista kick) 4:40
NAPA: Bowers 40-yard pass from Schoeps (kick good) 1:44
NU: Dylan McGilvary 57-yard pass from Heilaman (Tihista kick) 6:50
NU: Fay 4-yard run (kick no good) 9:55
NAPA: Bowers 11-yard pass from Schoeps (kick good) 5:40
GRASS VALLEY — After struggling offensively through the first two weeks of the season, the Miners busted out in a big way Friday night.
Playing in front of a raucous home crowd at Hooper Stadium, the Miners ate up more than 500 yards on the ground as they rumbled to a 59-34 victory over the visiting Napa Grizzlies.
“It’s kind of surreal. It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said Brad Sparks after notching his first win as the Miners varsity head coach. “It’s important for these young men. They’ve gone through a lot. A lot of loss. And, it’s nice to finally get a win and a big win. A win that we needed.”
In an offensive showcase that featured more than 1,000 yards of combined offense, it was Nevada Union’s ground game that proved superior to and Napa’s aerial attack.
The Miners (1-2) were led on the ground by senior running back Dawson Fay, who sliced through the Napa defense for 247 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries.
“This was a huge victory,” Fay said. “We’ve been saying all week that we need this. This was a have-to-win game. We got the job done. Really nice to do it in front of the home crowd.”
Fay put the Miners on the board early with a 53-yard touchdown run on NU’s first possession. He would add touchdown runs of 78 yards, 25 yards and 4 yards before he was done.
“I love the open field,” Fay said. “Get me in the open field, and I will do my thing.”
Winning the battle up front and paving the way for NU’s ball carriers was center John Low, tackles Dylan Hart and Christian Espinoza, guards Matt Dal Bon and Sammy Slay, and tight end Cameron Dallago.
“Without our line we can’t do anything in the backfield and that showed the past two games,” Fay said. “This week our coaches really challenged them to step up and they did.”
The Miners also got strong games from senior running backs Isreal Gonzales and Hayden Lee. Gonzales finished with 114 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Lee tallied 93 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
“I’ve got three backs that can pretty much start for anybody,” Sparks said. “But, it was really what we were doing up front… Coach (Jim) Rubiales and coach (Tyler) Droivold did a great job this week and the O-line got much, much better. All week we got better. I’m really proud of the kids. Really proud of them.”
NU’s Jeremy Nettles added 33 yards rushing, and Logan Lopez chipped in 25 yards on the ground.
For much of the first half, Napa’s passing game was able to keep pace with the Miners ground game as the Grizzlies hit on touchdown passes of 77 yards, 72 yards, and 40 yards.
Napa quarterback Gunner Schoeps had 254 yards passing and three touchdowns by halftime. NU’s defense would stiffen in the second half, though, and Schoeps finished the game with 280 pass yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Schoeps was also Napa’s top rusher, notching 65 yards on 13 carries.
“Offensively we made some strides tonight and put some points on the board,” said Napa head coach Tom Petithomme. “The difference was we couldn’t stop them. We still need to keep working on our run defense and that’s something that will be our main focus this week in practice. We need to be able to stop the run if we’re going to compete.”
With Nevada Union’s run game humming, it opened up the passing game. Nevada Union’s senior quarterback Parker Heilaman logged his best game of the season so far, going 4-for-7 for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Heilaman hit sophomore Jaxon Horne for a 18-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, and connected with senior Dylan McGilvary for a 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Heilaman also ran for a touchdown in the win.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Miners had their best showing of the season and grabbed a pair of interceptions along the way, one by defensive back Bram Lofgren in the first quarter and another by linebacker Duke Morales in the third quarter.
“This win was huge,” said Morales, who was flying all over the field Friday night, making plays and putting on big hits. “It meant a lot to us and we needed to get this W, and I’m so excited we did.”
Dallago and Dal Bon also had strong games on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’ve got some more work to do there,” said Sparks. “We need to put more pressure on the quarterback. But, I love that they are flying all over the field. That’s what I love the most. It’s that NU swarming defense, and that has a lot to do with why we won tonight.”
The Miners scored 33 points in the first quarter and led 46-27 by halftime. Nevada Union’s 59 points is their biggest scoring output since 2009 when they beat Napa, 62-12.
The Miners have a bye next Friday and get back to it with a road game against River City (West Sacramento) Sept. 14.
JV: NAPA 19, NEVADA UNION 18
The junior varsity Miners jumped out to an 11-6 halftime lead, but couldn’t hold on down the stretch.
After Napa took the lead, 13-11, late in the third quarter, the Miners responded with an 86-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Conway to Ayrton Swasey to pull ahead, 18-13. On the play, Swasey ran a slant pattern, made a great catch on a ball slightly behind him, then out ran the defense.
Napa would respond with a touchdown pass on a fourth down play with just 1:51 left in the game.
The JV Miners (0-3) drove down the field and gave themselves a chance with one last heave as the final seconds ticked down, but they couldn’t haul it in.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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