Tough times continue for NU
Whether it’s a Lancer, a Pacer, an Eagle or a Panther, the Miners have fallen hard to each opponent this season, and with a Thundering Herd on the horizon and the beasts of the Sierra Foothill lying in wait, things aren’t going to get any easier.
Saturday’s 41-14 loss to Chico is the newest low point for a Miners team that seems to have nothing but on-the-field low points this season.
The loss was the Miners’ fourth straight by at least 18 points and the fourth in a row in which they have trailed by at least 19 points at halftime.
The game against Chico put a spotlight on the NU defense, which struggled mightily to slow a rather pedestrian Panther running game. Chico’s big but not particularly fast quarterback beat NU by himself, rushing for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Chico finished the game with just under 500 yards from scrimmage, 360 of which were on the ground.
Tackling is a major problem for the defense, and head coach Dennis Houlihan said as much in the post-game interview.
“We weren’t able to tackle again,” he said. “You can see a lot of work needs to be done in the weight room, and we’re doing it. We’re just behind the curve.”
Some positives to take from Saturday’s loss are improvements in the backfield. Gareth Noxon had another strong game at running back. Since making the move from wide receiver, Noxon has 182 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns of 71 and 28 yards.
The Miners decided on a quarterback, going with sophomore Justus Spillner for the rest of the season.
In his first full game, throwing through rain and on a field of mud, he went 6-for-13 for 132 yards and an interception. In the game, Spillner set personal varsity highs in yards (132), completions (6), long (51) and number of receivers to catch a pass (4).
The Miners will now ready themselves for a homecoming game against perennial power and undefeated Elk Grove (4-0) Friday.
Around the Sierra Foothill League
Granite Bay, 46, Vacaville 28
For the second straight week, the Grizzlies (2-1) hung at least 40 points on the board, and the reigning Division I state champs look to have fully recovered from their week one loss to Folsom.
Senior running back Tony Ellison had his best game of the season with 168 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Ellison totaled 332 yards, coming on the ground, through the air and on kick returns.
The Grizzlies are back at it Friday to face Pittsburgh (3-1).
De La Salle 41, Del Oro 3
Facing the most prolific prep football team in all of California, the Golden Eagles got a taste of what the Spartans can do on the football field.
De La Salle racked up 466 rush yards among eight ball carriers and routed Del Oro by 38.
Senior Dylan Kainrath managed 73 yards for Del Oro, and quarterback Michael Moore threw for 55 yards as the Golden Eagles scored three points against a Spartan defense that regularly sends players to Division I colleges.
Del Oro’s schedule gets easier, but not by much as it readies itself for Grant (3-1) Friday.
Rocklin 31, Del Campo 6
The Thunder made it two wins in a row after dropping their first two.
Rocklin topped the Cougars Friday behind an impressive running day from senior Evyn Holtz with 193 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
The Thunder (2-2) travel to face Inkerdum (3-1) Friday.
Roseville 17, Oakmont 12
Roseville bounced back from last week’s loss to Folsom with a defensive win over Oakmont.
The Tigers (3-1) held Oakmont to 73 yards on the ground, 145 through the air, and snagged an interception in the win.
The Tigers are back at it Friday when they face Casa Roble.
Antelope 27, Woodcreek 24
The Timberwolves lost by a last-minute Antelope field goal, dropping them to 1-3 on the season.
Woodcreek had led 21-0 in the first quarter but watched as the lead evaporated into an Antelope victory. Antelope scored 17 in the second quarter, another seven in the third and tacked on the game-winning field goal with less than a minute left in the game.
Woodcreek will now face Placer (1-2) Friday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All stats are courtesy of MaxPreps.com.
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The 2021 High School Optimist All Star teams for baseball, softball and boys volleyball have been announced, and several local student-athletes made the cut.