PREP FOOTBALL: Vikings sink Miners in league bout (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)
ROSEVILLE — For the second game in a row the Miners led at halftime. And, for the second straight game they struggled down the stretch and lost by a double digit margin.
“Team’s are making adjustments on us, and we’re not adjusting back,” said Nevada Union head coach Brad Sparks after his team’s second straight Foothill Valley League loss. “The kids played hard, but it’s still not enough.”
The Miners led 14-13 at halftime, but couldn’t get much going in the second half and fell to the Oakmont Vikings, 34-21, Friday night. A week ago, Nevada Union led Placer 7-6 at the break, only to lose after being outscored 22-7 in the second half.
Facing the Vikings (6-1, 1-1 FVL), the Miners (4-3, 0-2 FVL) looked like the better team in the first quarter as they opened up a 14-0 lead behind a pair of Jaxon Horne touchdowns.
The talented junior running back put the Miners up 7-0 with a 5-yard run midway through the first quarter. A few minutes later, Horne broke off an impressive 69-yard touchdown run in which he cut back against the defensive pursuit, darted up the far sideline and fended off several would be tacklers to put the Miners up two scores. Horne finished the night with 117 rush yards, 111 of which came in the first half.
The Vikings responded in the second quarter with a 3-yard scoring run by senior running back Kane Rosko. He was just getting started.
After an NU fumble gave the ball back to the Vikings, their dual threat quarterback Hayden Abbruzzese punched it in from 9-yards out. The extra point was blocked and NU led 14-13 at halftime.
The third quarter was all Oakmont as the Vikings sailed down the field on their opening possession, capping a four-play, 66-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by Rosko.
After an NU punt, Oakmont only needed two plays to score again. A 39-yard pass play got the Vikings inside the 10-yard line and Rosko busted in for his third score of the game. The senior running back tallied a game-high 118 rush yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Trailing 26-14 in the second half, the Miners made some spectacular defensive plays to keep them in the game, including an interception by defensive lineman Isaiah Carter who snuffed out a screen play and used one hand to pluck the ball out of the air and set up NU in Oakmont territory.
Despite the good field position, NU’s offense sputtered and eventually turned the ball over on downs.
On Oakmont’s next possession, it looked as if Rosko was headed for his fourth score of the game, but Horne chased him down, stripped the ball free inside the five yard line and recovered it in the end zone for a touchback.
But again, the Miners failed to capitalize on their good fortune and punted the ball away.
As the clock ticked down on the fourth quarter, the Miners finally got going offensively thanks to sophomore fullback Gabe Baker, who hauled in a screen pass from J.T Conway, made the first defender miss and took off for a 66-yard score.
Trailing 26-21, the Miners needed a stop, but it wasn’t to be. Oakmont marched down the field and put the game away with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Abbruzzese to James Mintmier with 2:38 left in the contest.
Abbruzzese finished the game 13-of-20 for 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 105 yards and a touchdown.
NU’s passing game struggled mightily throughout as junior quarterback J.T. Conway was 5-of-17 for 115 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
“We are struggling in the passing game, and that’s got to get better. It’s got to,” said Sparks. “I may have to make some changes, because we have some things that are just not clicking right.”
Sparks clarified the changes he will be making will be related to scheme, not personnel.
The Miners return home next Friday for their final home game of the season. They will be hosting Ponderosa at Hooper Stadium in a critical league bout.
AROUND THE FVL
In other league action, the Placer Hillmen (5-2, 2-0 FVL) beat the Rio Linda Knights (5-2, 1-1 FVL), 24-7. Over in Shingle Springs, Ponderosa (4-3, 1-1 FVL) topped Lincoln (4-3, 1-1 FVL), 35-21.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
SCORE BY QUARTER
VIKINGS 34, MINERS 21
NU: Jaxon Horne 5-yard run (Moises Tovar kick) 4:57
NU: Horne 69-yard run (Tovar kick) 2:57
O: Kane Rosko 3-yard run (James Mintmier kick) 7:09
O: Hayden Abbruzzese 9-yard run (kick blocked) 5:52
O: Rosko 8-yard run (2-point try no good) 10:37
O: Rosko 9-yard run (Mintmier kick) 8:21
NU: Gabe Baker 66-yard pass from J.T. Conway (Tovar kick) 5:58
O: Mintmier 31-yard pass from Abbruzzese (2-point conversion good) 2:38
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