PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union falls to Napa in overtime
Indians 35, Miners 34 – 2OT
N: Sean Madigan 38-yard run (9:00) Pedro Chavez kick good
NU: Hayden Fay 8-yard run (6:01) Chase Ruble kick good
NU: Hayden Fay 4-yard pass from Dawson Fay (2:02) Ruble kick good
NU: Owen Dal Bon 1-yard run (8:15) Ruble kick good
N: Alex Perez de Leon 56-yard pass from Austin Spinelli (7:08) Chavez kick good
N: Perez de Leon 7-yard pass from Spinelli (:14) Chavez kick good
NU: Hayden Fay 13-yard pass from Dal Bon. Ruble kick good
N: Hunter Scriven 7-yard pass from Spinelli. Chavez kick good
N: Spinelli 7-yard run. Chavez kick good
NU: Tyler Nielson 1-yard run. 2-point try no good
For the second week in a row the Nevada Union football team settled its game in overtime. But, this time it wasn’t the Miners who ran off the field in celebration.
Trailing by one point to Napa at Hooper Stadium, the Miners opted to go for a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown in the second overtime period, but the Indians stuffed the run-pass option play to earn the victory, 35-34.
“I’m not going for ties,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said of going for two at the end. “I’m not going to keep going through it. I wanted to go for the win right then and there.”
Leading 21-14 in the fourth quarter, the Miners had a chance to put the game away but missed a 35-yard field goal with 1:37 left in the game that would have put them up by 10. Napa took over and marched down the field with ease, scoring on a 7-yard fade pass with 14 seconds left on the clock.
In overtime, the Miners went on offense first and after a penalty and a couple of short run plays was facing third-and-goal from the 13-yard line. NU quarterback Owen Dal Bon took the snap and was immediately pressured, but the crafty junior wiggled away and found Hayden Fay in the back corner of the end zone to grab the edge in overtime, 28-21. It was Fay’s third touchdown of the game (two receiving, one rushing).
Napa responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass on third down, knotting the game at 28-28 after the extra point.
In California high school football, overtime games are settled after both teams have had four downs to score from the 10-yard line. If the teams are tied after each has had an offensive series, the overtime continues.
In the second overtime, Napa went on offense first and scored on a 7-yard run by quarterback Austin Spinelli. The senior quarterback finished the night with three passing touchdowns and one rushing.
Trailing 35-28, the Miners took over and promptly scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Tyler Nielson to pull within one. Nielson ran hard all night, breaking multiple tackles and leading the Miners with 160 yards on the ground to go with his one touchdown.
That’s when NU opted to go for two, running a sweep play to Dawson Fay, who had the option to run or throw the ball, but Napa swarmed the play, leading to an incomplete pass and an Indians victory.
The very same play had worked earlier in the game on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter when Dawson Fay took the handoff, then found his older brother Hayden Fay in the end zone for six.
The Miners’ defense played three really strong quarters, but then fell apart down the stretch. NU allowed 14 points in the final quarter of regulation and then were unable to stop Napa in overtime as the Indians scored 28 of their 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.
Leading NU’s defense was linebacker Justin Houlihan with nine tackles, Grady McCuen wrapped up eight tackles and forced a fumble. Owen Day recovered that fumble and also had two tackles. Senior linebacker NU’s Jared Finau also played well with six tackles and an interception.
Nevada Union controlled the pace of the game thanks in large part to its run game. The Miners racked up a season best 281 yards on the ground, led by Nielson’s 160. Dawson Fay added 57 rush yards and Justin Houlihan tallied 40 rush yards.
Through the air
The Miners only passed the ball 16 times, completing nine for 91 yards. Junior quarterback Owen Dal Bon was 8-for-14 for 86 yards and one touchdown. Dal Bon also rushed for a touchdown, scoring from a yard out in the third quarter.
Home field advantage?
Nevada Union’s futility streak at home continues grow as the Miners have now lost 10 in a row at Hopper Stadium, including two this season. The Miners are now 1-16 at home under head coach Dennis Houlihan.
The SFL looms
Despite the loss, Houlihan said he is confident in his team’s ability and feels they are ready to compete when league play opens next Friday.
“I feel confident with them,” he said. “I really do. I don’t think were going to get pushed around like we’ve been. I do think there are some teams we will really compete with and have a chance to beat.”
The Miners open Sierra Foothill League play at home against Rocklin next Friday.
JV and Freshmen
Nevada Union’s junior varsity team fell to Napa 43-14. The loss drops the JV squad to 1-3. NU’s freshmen continued their strong start with a 25-20 victory to improve to 3-1 on the season.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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