PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union closes season with lopsided loss to Oak Ridge
The Nevada Union football team’s 2017 campaign and eight-season run in the Sierra Foothill League came to a close Friday night with a lopsided loss to powerhouse program Oak Ridge.
Under the lights at Hooper Stadium, the undefeated Trojans (9-0, 5-0 SFL) were simply too much for the Miners (2-8, 0-6 SFL), grabbing a 35-0 halftime lead before cruising to a 48-14 victory.
Oak Ridge got on the board just 32 seconds into the game when receiver Justin Poerio took a handoff on what looked to be a sweep play, but pulled up and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Braeden Anderson.
The Trojans senior quarterback Marco Baldacchino took over from there. Baldacchino hit Austin Jarrard for a 5-yard touchdown pass to put Oak Ridge up 14-0 in the first quarter. Baldacchino then ran for a pair of scores, one coming from 25-yards out and another from 15-yards out to put the Trojans up 28-0 midway through the second quarter.
Davin Simmons added a short touchdown run before halftime to make it 35-0.
The Trojans then made it 42-0 in the third quarter with a blocked punt they recovered in the end zone.
The Miners finally got going late in the third quarter when Hayden Fay blocked an Oak Ridge punt, setting NU up at the 6-yard line. Senior running back Tyler Nielson would eventually punch it in from 1-yard out. Nielson’s touchdown snapped an 11-quarter scoreless stretch for NU.
Nielson, a three-year varsity starter, finished his senior year with 523 rush yards and six total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving). The talented ball carrier closed his varsity career with 1,855 rush yards, 24 total touchdowns and a 5-yard per carry average.
It was also Senior Night for the Miners, who graduated 18 seniors, many of which were starters.
“I love them all,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said of his senior players. “I’ve watched them grow up as if they were my own kids. I feel as a coach and as a dad I’m losing 18 of my own kids. It’s heart wrenching but at the same time exciting to see what they do next.”
The Nevada Union program said goodbye to several seniors who were impact players including middle linebacker Justin Houlihan (102 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, interception), quarterback Owen Dal Bon (710 pass yards, 119 rush yards, three passing touchdowns), receiver/defensive back Hayden Fay (28 receptions, 339 receiving yards, two total touchdowns, three interceptions), defensive back Will Smith (23 tackles, interception), defensive back Garrett Graves (30 tackles, interception), linebacker Jace Wheeler (42 tackles), defensive/offensive lineman Ethan Garrity, defensive/offensive lineman Dominic Garrity, defensive/offensive lineman Brandon Dipietro, defensive/offensive lineman Keith Ward, defensive/offensive lineman Reid Pearcy, offensive lineman Cole Johnson and offensive lineman and team captain Ben Leitherer. Seniors Robert Jeanson, Brandon Robinson, Chris Raley and Robin Jones also played their last football game for the Miners.
Leading NU’s ground game against Oak Ridge was freshmen Jaxon Horne, who rushed the ball four times for a team-high 53 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. It was Horne’s first game at the varsity level.
Nevada Union’s Dawson Fay added 50 yards to his yearly total and closes his junior season with 1,173 yards on the ground. His rushing total is the most by a Nevada Union running back since 2010. He also led the Miners in touchdowns this season with 14 (11 rushing, two kickoff returns, one passing).
Nevada Union’s senior quarterback Owen Dal Bon left with an injury in the first half, but sophomore replacement Justin Gardner fared well, completing five of his 11 passes for 76 yards.
Hayden Fay, led all NU pass catchers with five receptions for 75 yards. The dependable pass catcher was a consistent target for NU during his career, making at least one catch in 24 straight games.
GOOD BYE, AND GOOD RIDDANCE
The Miners finally bid farewell to the SFL, a place they struggled, going 5-39 against league opponents since joining in 2010. Nevada Union failed to win a league contest the past five seasons and close their tenure in the SFL on a 31-game league losing streak.
Nevada Union will compete in the Foothill Valley League next season along with Placer, Lincoln, Oakmont, Ponderosa and Rio Linda.
Oak Ridge will now get ready to face three-time SFL champ Folsom (9-0, 5-0 SFL) for the league title next week.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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