PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union falls to Rocklin in league opener (VIDEO) | TheUnion.com
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PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union falls to Rocklin in league opener (VIDEO)

THUNDER 39, MINERS 22

First quarter

R: Richard Purvis 31-yard field goal 9:14

R: Blayden Brown 19-yard run (2-point try good) 2:01

Second quarter

NU: Tyler Nielson 1-yard run (2-point try no good) 10:18

R: Brown 3-yard run (Purvis kick) 6:04

Third quarter

R: Brown 1-yard run (Purvis kick) 10:52

R: Charlie McBride 11-yard pass from Cade Wyant (Purvis kick) 9:24

R: McBride 14-yard pass from Wyant (Purvis kick) :44

Fourth quarter

NU: Dawson Fay 9-yard run (2-point try good) 10:52

NU: Fay 3-yard run (2-point try good) 3:37

ROCKLIN – An abundance of turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities will make it difficult to win any game. In the Sierra Football League it’s near impossible.

Four turnovers, 10 penalties and a failure to make Rocklin pay for its mistakes hurt the Nevada Union football team greatly Friday night as they fell to the Thunder, 39-22, in the Sierra Foothill League opener for both teams.

“First half we were in the game and the kids believed it,” said Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan “But, the second half was just mistake after mistake which allowed them to pull away, which is disappointing. We’re better than that.”



Nevada Union (2-3 overall, 0-1 SFL) turned the ball over four times (three interceptions, fumble) and each time the Thunder (4-1, 1-0) made them pay, turning NU’s gaffes into 26 points. The Miners also committed 10 penalties which cost them 67 yards.

After a pair of NU turnovers resulted in 11-0 first quarter lead for Rocklin, the Miners answered back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive, ending in 1-yard touchdown run by Tyler Nielson. The senior running back accounted for 44 of Nevada Union’s 312 rushing yards in the game.



The Miners ground game was strong all night, especially when Dawson Fay had the ball as the talented junior rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries. Fay now has 525 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns this season.

“Dawson wants the ball, and he’s running like it right now,” said Houlihan.

While Nevada Union’s ground game hummed, the passing game sputtered. The Miners completed more passes to Rocklin defenders than they did their own receivers, going 1-for-11 for five yards and three interceptions.

“It really is a struggle right now,” said Houlihan. “Our timing is way off and we got to keep challenging our lineman. Our lineman have to give Owen (Dal Bon) some time. Right now, we can’t even get the ball off.”

Trailing 18-6, the Miners had an opportunity to close the gap just before halftime when Will Smith forced a fumble and Hayden Lee fell on it, setting NU up at the Rocklin 25 with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

NU’s offense only moved backwards though and eventually turned the ball over on downs. The Miners forced two turnovers in the game, but failed to turn either of them into points.

Coming out of the break, the Miners tried to steal a possession with an onside kick, which they recovered. But, it was before the ball went 10-yards, giving Rocklin possession on NU’s 34 yard line after the penalty was marked off. Four plays later the Thunder rolled into the end zone to take a 23-6 lead.

Rocklin would add two more touchdowns in the third quarter, both coming after NU turnovers, and took a 39-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Miners continued to battle, scoring two late touchdowns to make the score a little more respectable.

“We need to just learn to be able to be stronger in the second half,” said Houlihan after his team was outscored 21-0 in the third quarter. “We’ve struggled in every game offensively. I think our defense is fine. I think our defense plays hard, they’re just on the field a lot.”

Defensively, NU was led by senior middle linebacker Justin Houlihan with eight tackles, Santino Sanchez-Lane with seven tackles, Smith with six tackles and Dylan Hart with five tackles. Hayden Fay also grabbed an interception just before halftime.

For Rocklin, they were led by running back Blayden Brown with three rushing touchdowns. Thunder quarterback Cade Wyant also threw for a pair of touchdowns, both of which went to tight end Charlie McBride.

The loss extends the Miners SFL losing streak to 26-straight games, dating back to Oct. 19, 2012 when they beat Roseville. Next up for Nevada Union is Del Oro (3-2, 0-1) in Loomis next Friday.

PASSING PROBLEMS

Nevada Union’s aerial attack has been abysmal the past three games, completing just 10-of-32 passes for 123 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.

For the season, the Miners have completed just 44 percent of their passes, and are averaging 73.6 yards per game. Last season, Nevada Union averaged 143.5 yards per game.

“If we can’t throw we’re going to struggle,” Dennis Houlihan said.

AROUND THE SFL

Reigning SFL champion Folsom (5-0, 1-0) opened league play with a convincing, 55-14, win over Woodcreek (1-4, 0-1). Folsom’s junior quarterback Kaiden Bennett tallied 245 yards through the air, completing just seven passes in the game, five of which went for touchdowns. Granite Bay (5-0, 1-0) held off a late Del Oro charge to top the Golden Eagles, 28-21. The Grizzlies were led by quarterback Jade Fodrill with 138 yards passing to go with 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Granite Bay running back Evan Tattersall added 73 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Oak Ridge (4-0) had a bye.

FRESHMEN: ROCKLIN 19, NEVADA UNION 18

The freshmen Miners fell just short against Rocklin, losing by a point after Rocklin kicked a field goal with just seconds remaining in the game.

Nevada Union had trailed 16-6 at halftime, before storming back to take a 18-16 lead in the fourth quarter.

Leading the Miners was running back Jaxon Horne with 146 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards. Colby Eldredge added 20 yards and a rushing touchdown.

NU quarterback J.T. Conway was 6-for-12 for 119 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions through the air. Conway hit Ayrton Swasey for a 24-yard score, and found Andrew Gannon three times for 62 yards and touchdown.

Leading the NU defense was Gannon with eight tackles, and Eldredge with seven tackles and an interception.

The freshmen Miners are now 2-3 overall and 0-1 in SFL play.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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