PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union set to face Lincoln on Heroes Night |

PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union set to face Lincoln on Heroes Night

Nevada Union running back Dawson Fay is off to a strong start to his junior season, averaging 104 rushing yards per game to go with a team-high three rushing touchdowns. The Miners face Lincoln at Hooper Stadium tonight.
Photo by John Hart |


What: Nevada Union (1-1) vs. Lincoln (1-1)

When: 7 p.m., today

Where: Hooper Stadium, Nevada Union High School, 11761 Ridge Rd, Grass Valley

Follow along: on Twitter at @WalterLFordIII and online at

Special promotion: Friday night is Heroes Night at Hooper Stadium. All military, veterans, law and fire personal as well as EMS responders will get into the game free.

The Miners and Zebras have faced each other in early season non-league bouts the past three seasons. Each time it has been a battle until the very end.

Three years ago, the Miners held on for a 26-20 victory on the Zebras’ home turf. Lincoln took the contest in 2015 with a 42-35 victory over NU at Hooper Stadium. Last season, it was the Miners winning on the road, 21-14, with a goal line stand in overtime.

This year’s matchup, which will be on Hooper Stadium’s new turf, is shaping up to be another tight contest.

The Miners (1-1) come into the game on the heels of a 43-16 home victory over Placer, where they showcased their many weapons on offense and defense.

Lincoln (1-1) comes into town a week after dropping their first game of the season, a 35-24 loss to Antelope. Nevada Union’s only loss came against Antelope as well.

Lincoln’s offense, which is averaging 26.5 points per game, is led by quarterback Tommy Turner. The 6-foot, 5-inch junior has completed 34-of-60 passes for 438 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions this season. Turner’s favorite target is senior receiver James Sweet, who has 16 catches for 316 yards and three touchdowns this season.

Lincoln’s running game has averaged 128.5 yards per game so far and is led by 5-6, 145-pound senior Pete Murillo with 111 yards on 30 carries through two games.

Nevada Union’s run game found its stride last week, eating up 284 yards and accounting for five touchdowns. Leading NU have been running backs Dawson Fay and Tyler Nielson. Fay, a junior, leads the team with 208 yards and three touchdowns this season. Fay has shown he has a knack for finding the endzone, scoring at least one touchdown in each of NU’s first two games and scoring at least one in seven of his first 12 varsity games dating back to last season.

Nielson is behind Fay with 162 yards and two touchdowns this season. Nielson, now in his third year on varsity, has ammassed 1,493 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns in 22 varsity games.

Adding a third rushing weapon for the Miners is quarterback Owen Dal Bon, who took off for a career high 67 yards and two touchdowns last week.

“He is a threat with his legs,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said of Dal Bon. “He is fast and he needs to understand he’s a a weapon in that way.”

After a rough first week through the air, the Miners’ passing game looked much better against Placer as Dal Bon connected on 10-of-14 passes for 141 yards. For the season, Dal Bon is 17-of-31 for 210 yards and an interception. His No. 1 target has been Senior Hayden Fay, who has eight catches for 101 yards this season. Through two games, the Miners are averaging 29.5 points per game.

Defensively, the Miners looked strong a week ago, holding a Placer team that scored 49 points in the opening week to just 16.

Anchoring NU’s defense is senior linebacker Justin Houlihan, who leads the team with 24 tackles, three of which have been for a loss. Other defensive standouts include outside linebacker Jace Wheeler and defensive lineman Brandon DiPietro.

Lincoln’s defense has allowed 24.5 points per game through two games. They are led by senior linebacker Jack Boatman, who had 21 tackles last week and is averaging 16.5 per game this season. Lincoln also gets after the quarterback with six sacks through two games.

The Miners and Zebras are set to kick off at 7 p.m. tonight.


Friday night is Heroes Night at Hooper Stadium. All military, veterans, law and fire personal as well as EMS responders will get into the game free.


The rivalry between NU and Lincoln will really start to heat up next season when both teams join the Tri-County Conference along with Placer, Oakmont, Ponderosa and Rio Linda.

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

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