PREP FOOTBALL: Mistakes cost Miners against Woodcreek |

PREP FOOTBALL: Mistakes cost Miners against Woodcreek

Nevada Union's Tyler Nielson (5) runs the ball during a game against Woodcreek Friday night. Nielson scored four touchdowns in the game.
Laura Mahaffy/ |

T’Wolves 34, Nevada Union 32


NU: Tyler Nielson 10-yard run (7:43) kick no good

WC: Isaiah Ajayi 29-yard run (5:00) Dylan Carlson kick

NU: Hayden Fay 66-yard pass from Owen Dal Bon (3:47) 2-point try no good

WC: Andrew Knapp 77-yard pass from Matthew Gordon (3:06) Carlson kick


WC: Carlson 34-yard field goal (7:31)

NU: Nielson 2-yard run (4:46) 2-point try no good


WC: Tyler England 52-yard run (5:49) Carlson kick

WC: Carlson 39-yard field goal (1:05)


NU: Nielson 2-yard run (10:02) Dal Bon kick

WC: Gordon 3-yard run (4:57) Carlson kick

NU: Nielson 1-yard run (1:39) Dal Bon kick

In the Sierra Foothill League, the smallest mistakes can cost a team a chance at victory. Friday night at Woodcreek, the Nevada Union football team simply made too many small mistakes and it cost them a shot at their first league win in four seasons.

The Miners missed an extra point, failed on a pair of two-point conversion attempts, had two long touchdown passes called back on penalties, fumbled away a possession deep in Woodcreek territory, and in the end fell to the Timberwolves, 34-32.

“Mental mistakes,” NU head coach Dennis Houlihan said was what cost his team the victory. “We shot ourselves in the foot on three drives. Got stuffed on fourth-and-1 going in, and really it was a 21-point difference in the first half. In the second half, our offense wasn’t going very well, but our defense was playing well and stopping the run a little bit. It just wasn’t all put together at the same time.”

With all of NU’s mistakes, they still had a shot to steal the game at the end. After Tyler Nielson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game brought the Miners to within two at 34-32 with 1:39 left in the game, NU kicked an onside kick. The Miners recovered the kick but, after a referee conference, it was determined that NU touched the ball too early and the ball was given to Woodcreek.

“It looked like it was close, but the referees called it the way they saw it,” said Houlihan. “They said it was touched at about 8 yards, and you’re not going to change their minds. It’s too bad because I thought we made the play we needed to make.”

It was a close game all the way through with both teams trading the lead back and forth.

The Miners got the scoring started with a 10-yard touchdown run by Nielson, who finished with just 52 rushing yards but four ground touchdowns. The Miners missed the extra point attempt though, and that set off a chain of events that would cost them in the end.

Woodcreek answered back with a 29-yard touchdown run by junior Isaiah Ajayi, who topped the 100-yard mark along with teammate Tyler England. In all, Woodcreek racked up 277 rush yards on 31 carries.

The Miners took the lead back on a 65-yard touchdown pass from Owen Dal Bon to Hayden Fay. Dal Bon had a solid night, throwing for 201 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Fay torched the Woodcreek secondary for 142 yards and the one score on seven catches. But, NU’s two-point attempt failed and they led 12-7.

Less than a minute later, Woodcreek hit on a 77-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Gordon to Andrew Knapp. Gordon found Knapp on a slant route for about 10-yards then Knapp did the rest, sprinting through the NU secondary.

The Timberwolves would add a field goal to go up 17-12. NU answered with another Nielson touchdown. But, again NU failed on the two-point try and took an 18-17 lead into halftime.

NU stopped Woodcreek on its first drive of the third quarter, getting an interception by Jonathan Weaver that put the Miners in great field position. But, the Miners fumbled the ball away a few plays later.

Woodcreek would capitalize with a 52-yard touchdown run by England. Woodcreek added a field goal a little later and took a 27-18 lead into the final quarter.

The Miners pulled to within two at 27-25 after another Nielson short rushing score but, as they did all night, the Timberwolves had an answer. This time it was Gordon, Woodcreek’s senior quarterback, with a 3-yard plunge for a touchdown and a 34-25 lead.

Nielson’s final score of the night brought NU to within 34-32, but after the Miners failed to get the onside kick Woodcreek was able to run out the clock.

“Really, it comes down to us making plays to win the game,” said Houlihan. “Until they figure it out — we’re battling —but we’re still losing and we need to change that.”

As a team the Miners tallied 219 rush yards, led by Justin Houlihan with 86 yards on 16 carries. He also had 22 yards receiving. Sophomore running back Dawson Fay had 81 yards on 14 carries. Nielson tallied 52 rushing and 22 receiving.

“I keep saying this — we are young,” said Dennis Houlihan. “We have all juniors out there except for a few seniors who really gutted it out…They are learning. As much as it sucks to lose, you still learn a lot from losing.”


Nevada Union (2-5, 0-3 SFL) will regroup and get ready for Folsom (6-1, 3-0 SFL) next Friday at Hooper Stadium.


The junior varsity Miners had a tough time with Woodcreek, falling 26-7. NU’s lone score came in the fourth quarter on a Cole Loper to Cameron Dallago touchdown pass from about 15-yards out. The loss drops the JV Miners to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the SFL.

NU’s freshmen squad did pull off a victory over Woodcreek, beating the Timberwolves 34-14. The NU freshmen are now 4-3 overall and 1-2 in SFL play.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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