PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union can’t keep up with Rocklin in league opener |

PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union can’t keep up with Rocklin in league opener

Nevada Union's Dawson Fay runs the ball during a game against Rocklin at Hooper Stadium Friday night.
Laura Mahaffy/ |

Thunder 48, Miners 35


NU: Dawson Fay 41-yard run (10:21) Logan Siemers kick

NU: Fay 6-yard run (4:59) Siemers kick


R: Blayden Brown 3-yard run (11:45) Charlie McBride kick

R: Brenden Rakela 1-yard run (9:43) McBride kick

NU: Tyler Nielson 6-yard run (8:18) Siemers kick

R: Garet Ruffner 36-yard pass from Cade Wyant (6:24) McBride kick

NU: Dawson Fay 51-yard run (4:27) Siemers kick


R: Rakela 80-yard run (8:08) McBride kick

R: Brandon D’arpa 75-yard pass from Wyant (5:26) McBride kick

R: Rakela 2-yard run (4:15) McBride kick

NU: Hayden Fay 45-yard pass from Owen Dal Bon (3:13) Siemers kick


R: Rakela 14-yard run (9:41) kick no good

It was an offensive showcase at Hooper Stadium Friday as Nevada Union and Rocklin put up big numbers in their Sierra Foothill League opener.

By the time the final seconds ticked off the clock, the two teams had combined for more than 900 yards and 83 points, but it was the Miners who were on the short end, 48-35.

“We were trading punches just fine in the first half,” said Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan. “I think we still did OK, we just gave that away.”

The Miners came out looking to make a statement early and did so by grabbing a 14-0 first quarter lead after a pair of touchdowns from sophomore running back Dawson Fay. Fay’s first score came after some impressive blocking opened up a huge hole and he took the ball 41-yards for the touchdown. His second touchdown came on a 6-yard run in which he dragged Rocklin defenders with him and stretched the ball over the goal line. Fay finished the day with 127 rush yards and three touchdowns in the game, most of which came in the first half.

Rocklin would respond in the second quarter, getting a short rushing touchdown and then recovering a pooch kickoff to get the ball right back in NU territory. Rocklin promptly scored another short rushing touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.

The Miners came right back with a long drive finished off by a 6-yard touchdown run from junior running back Tyler Nielson, who tallied 86 rush yards and 65 receiving yards in the game.

After a Rocklin passing touchdown tied the game, the Miners went up 28-21 just before halftime when Fay took the ball and went up the sideline for a 51-yard touchdown run, stiff arming defenders along the way.

“Offensively I’m very happy,” Houlihan said. “We were able to move the ball…I was very proud of our offense. I’ve been waiting for that for a while.”

With a seven point lead in the third quarter, the Miners forced the Thunder to punt after their first possession. NU would drive deep into Rocklin territory, but left without a point after a missed field goal. Things fell apart after that.

Rocklin scored 21 straight points in a span of less than 4 minutes, getting an 80-yard touchdown run by Brenden Rakela, a 75-yard passing touchdown and another Rakela rush touchdown. Rakela shredded the NU defense all game, rushing for 242 yards and four touchdowns.

Trailing 42-28, the Miners responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Owen Dal Bon to junior receiver Hayden Fay. NU’s speedy receiver beat his man deep and Dal Bon put it right on his hands for the touchdown. Dal Bon finished the game 9-for-19 for 205 yards and a touchdown, but did have a costly interception in the fourth quarter. Hayden Fay led all NU receivers with five catches for 126 yards and one touchdown.

Rocklin’s Rakela added a 14-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put Rocklin up 48-35.

The Miners responded by driving down to the Rocklin 4-yard line and looked poised to cut into the deficit, but an interception on first and goal halted the drive and NU’s chances at a come from behind victory.

Defensively for the Miners Justin Houlihan had 22 tackles (15 solo) and a sack, Grady McCuen had 10 tackles and four sacks, and Nick Whittlesey had six tackles to go with an interception.

The loss drops Nevada Union to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in SFL play. Rocklin improves to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in league. Next up for the Miners is a bout with undefeated Del Oro (5-0, 1-0 SFL) next Friday at Hooper Stadium.

Still trying to put it together

Coming into the game the Miners defense had been strong, but against Rocklin it struggled all game. NU allowed 250 rushing yards and 249 pass yards while giving up a season-high 48 points. On the other side of the ball, however, the Miners had their best game of the season, scoring a season high 35 points while eating up 293 rushing yards and 205 passing yards.

“Someday were going to put them together on the same day and that’s when we will be able to close out a game,” said Dennis Houlihan.

In the trenches

The NU offensive line, which has only one senior, had its best game of the season Frdiay. The Miners in the middle opened up huge holes for NU’s backs to blast through. Leading NU’s offensive push was senior offensive lineman Bronson Ryberg, junior Reid Pearcy, Cole Johnson, Ethan Garrity and Keith Ward.

“Those guys are getting better every week and as soon as the game slows down for them, they’re just going to get better,” said Dennis Houlihan.

JV and Freshmen Miners

The Nevada Union junior varsity and freshmen teams didn’t fare well in their league openers as the JV Miners lost 33-6, and the freshmen squad lost 34-7. NU’s Jeremy Nettles scored the Miners lone touchdown in the freshmen game.

Around the SFL

In other league action, Del Oro (5-0, 1-0 SFL) took it to Granite Bay (1-4, 0-1 SFL) by a score of 42-21. After taking a 28-21 lead into halftime, the Golden Eagles outscored the Grizzlies 14-0 in the final two quarters. Folsom (4-1, 1-0 SFL) also earned a 42-21 victory, taking down Woodcreek (2-3, 0-1 SFL) by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter. Folsom quarterback Joe Curry led the way the 220 passing yards and three touchdowns. Oak Ridge had a bye.

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

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