PREP FOOTBALL: Miners shutout Fairfield for 3rd win in a row (PHOTO GALLERY/VIDEO)
MINERS 21, FALCONS 0
NU: Hayden Lee 36-yard pass from Parker Heilaman (Moises Tovar kick) 5:12
NU: Jaxon Horne 27-yard run (Tovar kick) 9:52
NU: Lee 23-yard run (Tovar kick) 1:24
In Nevada Union’s bouts with Napa and River City, it was the offense that powered the Miners to victory.
On a brisk Friday night in Fairfield, it was the defense’s time to shine.
The Miners put forth a dominant effort on the defensive side of the ball, notching four sacks and forcing four turnovers en route to a 21-0 shutout victory over the pass-heavy Fairfield Falcons.
“The kids played well,” said Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks. “Really proud of the defense. Really proud of (defensive coordinator) Jim Rubiales. I tell you what, I am a blessed man to have him in my corner with me. Really proud of him. He’s doing a great job, and the kids are buying in.”
The Miners (3-2) hounded Fairfield quarterback Armone Jordan all night, forcing three interceptions and holding him under 200 yards passing.
“Super proud of them,” Sparks said of his team’s defensive backs. “I don’t even know where to start, between Dawson (Fay), Jaxon (Horne), Bram (Lofgren), Cam (Dallago) and Hayden Lee, all of them in the secondary did a great job. They covered their guys. Played great man defense.”
While Nevada Union’s secondary was blanketing the Falcons receivers, the pass rush was relentless in its pursuit of the quarterback. Leading the charge was defensive ends Kaleb Smith and Matt Dal Bon.
“We were just pursuing and getting after it,” Smith said. “A lot of the sacks for me was people pressuring him and him rolling to my side, and I just made the play.”
Smith wrapped up three sacks in the game, and Dal Bon had one to go with multiple quarterback pressures.
“Kaleb’s been kind of a hidden hero,” said Sparks. “He keeps getting better every week and this was his week.”
In addition to Smith and Dal Bon, defensive end Sammy Slay, defensive tackle Liam Ferguson and middle linebacker Duke Morales also had strong games up front. The defense was also strong against the run, allowing just 4 yards.
The lack of a ground game and all that pressure on the quarterback led to third quarter interceptions by Fay and Logan Lopez, and a fourth quarter interception by Lee, who also recovered a fumble in the contest.
“I could see it in practice. I could tell that we are improving on our pass defense, and today we just came to play,” Lee said. “I was really proud to see it.”
In addition to his strong defensive play, Lee also had a big game on offense.
The senior running back put the Miners on the board in the first quarter when he slipped behind the Fairfield defense and hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Parker Heilaman.
Lee added a nifty 23-yard touchdown run, aided by a good downfield block from Dal Bon, late in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Lee finished the game with 52 rush yards, 36 receiving yards and the two touchdowns.
Nevada Union’s leading rusher, Fay, was held out of the end zone for the first time since week one, but he remained a force with 205 yards on 26 carries. It was Fay’s third straight game with more than 200 yards. The skilled senior has now rushed for 785 yards in the last three games and has 956 yards on the season.
The Miners’ other score came in the second quarter on an impressive 27-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jaxon Horne. On the play, Horne busted through the line, made a would-be tackler miss, then darted into the end zone. He closed the night with 103 rush yards and the one touchdown.
“Once we get that momentum, into that groove, it’s really hard to slow,” Lee said of the Nevada Union’s offense.
The victory gives the Miners their first three-game winning streak since 2011, when they opened the season 4-0. The shutout is also the program’s first since 2011 when they did it twice.
The Miners will now turn their attention to Foothill Valley League play, which kicks off next Friday. Nevada Union will travel to face undefeated Placer (5-0) in the league opener for both teams.
“We’ve got to clean some stuff up if we’re going to compete against Placer,” Sparks said. “This next week is a week that we have to get a lot, lot better.”
The junior varsity Miners (1-4) also earned a shutout victory, topping Fairfield 42-0, for their first win of the season.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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