PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union surges past Placer
Miners 43, Hillmen 16
NU: Tyler Nielson 29-yard run (2-point try good) 7:47
P: Travis Warren 59-yard pass from Michael Stuck (Ryan Meyer kick) 6:46
P: Brad Bishop 4-yard run (kick no good) 7:13
NU: Dawson Fay 12-yard run (2-point try good) 5:32
P: Meyer 21-yard field goal 3:23
NU: Owen Dal Bon 22-yard run (2-point try no good) 10:53
NU: Nielson 14-yard run (2-point try good) 7:46
NU: Dal Bon 55-yard run (Santino Sanchez-Lane kick) 4:05
NU: Isreal Gonzales 35-yard pass from Justin Gardner (kick no good) 1:05
The Miners were due some fun. Friday night at Hooper Stadium they had some.
“It was really nice to see the kids have some fun,” Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan said. “You saw the kids smile. You saw them celebrating. Things that we haven’t been able to do in a while.”
In its home opener, the Nevada Union football team had a bounce in their step as they skipped off the brand new turf at Hooper with a 43-16 victory over Placer.
“This is one of those moments I’ll remember for sure,” said Nevada Union senior quarterback Owen Dal Bon, who impressed with 141 yards through the air on 10-of-14 passing to go with touchdown runs of 22 yards and 55 yards.
It was reminiscent of “the good old days” of NU football as the Miners’ Wing-T offense lit up the scoreboard while a packed stadium roared in appreciation.
On offense, the Miners (1-1) racked up more than 400 yards of offense punctuated with big play after big play.
Senior running back Tyler Nielson got things going with a 29-yard first quarter touchdown run in which he used his blocks wisely and weaved through the Placer defense. Nielson finished the game with 95 rushing yards to go with a pair of touchdowns and 23 yards receiving.
Placer (1-1) responded with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Michael Stuck to Travis Warren, and then took a 13-8 lead after Brad Bishop plowed into the endzone from 4 yards out.
Nevada Union answered in the second quarter with a 12-yard touchdown run by Dawson Fay, who led all Miners on the ground with 117 yards.
After heading into halftime knotted at 16-16, the Miners came out of the break determined. They scored on the opening drive of the second half when Dal Bon scampered 22-yards for a touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Nevada Union added a 14-yard touchdown run by Nielson, coming on a fourth-and-2 play with the game still hanging in the balance.
The Miners created some more separation on their next drive when Dal Bon raced 55-yards for a score on a quarterback keeper.
“(Robert) Jeanson made a great block and I made a little move and I was gone,” said Dal Bon. “At the end I cramped up and it hurt really bad, but I didn’t care — we scored.”
While the Miners offense was taking care of business on their side of the ball, the defense was handling theirs just fine. After giving two touchdowns and a field goal in the first half, the NU defense stiffened and didn’t allow a Placer point in the second half.
“Scoring first was really important, to get that lead, and the goal line stand was big,” said Houlihan. “Then putting them in passing situations. No Wing-T team wants to have to pass every down and we were able to tighten up our coverage and get some pressure on them. I also thought we tackled really well tonight, they didn’t really bust big plays and our defense deserves the credit.”
Leading the Miners’ defense was senior middle linebacker Justin Houlihan with 17 tackles, 10 solo and three that were for a loss. Jace Wheeler wrapped up seven tackles, and Ethan Garrity also pitched in with five tackles.
Nevada Union forced two turnovers, an interception in the first quarter by Hayden Fay and another pick by sophomore Justin Gardner to put a bow on the victory. Hayden Fay also had a strong game on offense with six catches for 74 yards.
With the game well in hand, the Miners put in their backups and they put up points as well. Gardner found Isreal Gonzales on an out route. Gonzales hauled in the pass, turned upfield, tip-toed along the sideline and was gone for six.
“I told them this week, it’s not about who comes in or who we play — it’s about us,” said Dennis Houlihan. “It’s about our team, and they feel the pressure. They feel the pressure from the community because they’ve been successful and people have been talking about them since they were freshmen. I told them, you are kids and you are playing a game, go have fun playing a game, and our guys made plays.”
With the victory the Miners snapped an eight-game losing streak that dated back to last season and halted a 13-game home losing skid that dated back to the 2014 season.
GOING FOR TWO
The Miners opted to go for the two-point conversion after four of their six touchdowns, converting three times. Dawson Fay ran the ball in twice and Nielson added the other. When attempting the more traditional extra point kick, the Miners were 1-for-2.
The Miners will stay at home this week, hosting the Lincoln Zebras (1-1) in their third of four non-league bouts this season. Last season, the Miners topped the Zebras in overtime. Lincoln comes into the game with a record of 1-1 and on the heels of a 35-24 loss to Antelope.
The freshmen Miners scored through the air, on the ground and on defense in their convincing, 42-6, win over Placer Friday.
Already up 20-6 in the first half, the Miners extended their lead when quarterback J.T. Conway found Ayrton Swasey for a 58-yard touchdown. Conway finished the game with 147 yards passing and two touchdowns. Swasey caught two balls for 117 yards and two scores.
Nevada Union’s Jaxon Horne put the Miners up 35-6 in the second half when he scooped up a Placer fumble and took it 78-yards for a touchdown. Horne also had 12 tackles, an interception and a blocked field goal on defense. He then added a 59-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished with 85 rushing yards on five carries.
Leading NU’s ground game was Aidan Wahl with 106 yards, including a long of 80. Colby Eldredge added a touchdown run.
Pitching in on defense was Caleb Johnson with seven tackles, Larry Terronez with six tackles and Eldredge with five tackles, including a sack.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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