Turnovers costly for Miners in league loss
Five fumbles spelled doom for the Nevada Union Miners football team.
After holding Delta Valley Conference leader Elk Grove to a three-and-out on its first possession Friday night, the Miners started their own first possession by coughing it up at their own 8-yard line which the Thundering Herd converted into a 29-yard field goal by Stefano Baez.
But on the Miners’ next drive they fumbled another, this time under snap, on their own 3-yard line which the Thundering Herd defense recovered in the end zone for a touchdown to take a quick 10-0 lead en route to a 39-13 thrashing.
The Miners (3-5 overall, 1-2 DVC) never could recover from their own mistakes. The team’s sole salvaging point was a 52-yard touchdown return on one of their own fumbles. Running back Cameron Ryan, found the biggest streak of daylight in the darkened sky, recovering a Broughan Jantz fumble and returning it untouched for the Miners’ first points of the night in the third quarter.
The jaunt for the offense was a lost motivator though, as the team was sidetracked with 10 penalties that totaled 80 yards in losses on illegal procedures, offsides and personal fouls.
It didn’t help that the defense had its hands full with a couple of stud athletes on Elk Grove’s sideline, including quarterback Kevin Frank, who tossed a touchdown and
ran for another.
“They’re a pretty good team,” NU coach Dave Humphers said after the game. “I think we put ourselves in too big of a hole too early, but they’re probably gonna beat everybody in league.”
After Elk Grove got its first two scores, the Thundering Herd found another in the second quarter running the option as quarterback Frank zig-zagged his way up the left sideline untouched for a 64-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead before half.
He followed with 49-yard touchdown pass across his body and on the run to Brandon Soohoo to start the third quarter.
Immediately, the pressure could be felt on the NU sideline. The Miners came into the next possession looking to make plays and with a bit of stress on their shoulders.
Coach Humphers showed a bit of the stress himself, calling for a two-point
conversion after Ryan’s fumble recovery, which ended up failing.
“I think our kids are trying really hard to do well and at times are trying too hard to do well,” Humphers said.
It hit the Miners hard when they walked away down 24-6. It hit them harder when they went down 31-6 after Brooke Brooks had 41-yard run to get the Herd down to the Miner 7-yard line. Marcus Rondez, who finished with a game-high 81 rushing yards, rushed for the touchdown.
Albeit the score, the defense played to its strengths, tackling well and containing Frank and Rondez for the most part.
“We’re going to put it together,” said Cole Stanford, who had an interception and a couple of touchdown saving tackles. “The offense, they’re struggling right now. But jeesh, they’re just a few too many key mistakes.”
Elk Grove finished its scoring on a 8-play, 53-yard drive capped by a seven-yard touchdown by Rudy Martinez. The team followed with two-point conversion of their own with Soohoo completing the pass to Patrick O’Rourke for the score. The
conversion punctuated Elk Grove’s 39-point outing.
“He said it was a bad snap and he apologized,” said Humphers of Elk Grove coach David Hoskins. “We’re not complaining about that.”
The Miners used some trickery in the game, calling a halfback pass to third string quarterback Matt Anderson, who tossed a beautiful 46-yarder to Colin Casey to get NU down to the 1-yard line. Corey Browning finished off the drive, getting NU’s final touchdown. Browning now has 10 touchdowns on the year.
NU 20, Elk Grove 14
The Miners junior varsity chanted “championship” over and over again as they beat host Elk Grove 20-14 in a game that came down to the last play.
NU had scored two quick touchdowns against the Thundering Herd, with Juan Espinosa scoring twice on two-yard runs. But it was the strength of their defense that saved the Miners from what appeared to be a comeback in the waiting.
After an extra point was blocked in the fourth quarter, Elk Grove marched down the field to Nevada Union’s 8-yard line converting three fourth downs and using up the rest of the clock. With 8 seconds remaining, on another fourth down, Elk Grove attempted a pass but was sacked in the backfield.
Nick Talbott recorded 18 tackles for the Miners and Zach Vallejo had another 14 tackles. Eric Neiderberger recovered a fumble and rumbled 70 yards for a touchdown in the game.
“Our offensive line was crucial,” NU coach Mitch Giles said. “We had guys playing a little bit banged up there. But they crossed hurdles here and played like Spartans.”
To contact Sports Writer Zuri Berry, e-mail zurib@the union.com or call 477-4244.
Nevada Union (1-2) 0 0 6 7 ” 13
Elk Grove (3-0) 10 7 14 8 ” 39
EG – Stefano Baez 29 field goal, 9:26
EG – Fumble recovery (Baez kick), 7:28
EG – Kevin Frank 64 run (Baez kick), 2:17
EG – Brandon Soohoo 49 pass from Frank (Baez kick), 9:34
NU – Cameron Ryan 52 fumble return (Run failed), 6:41
EG – Marcus Rondez 7 run (Baez kick), 5:23
NU – Corey Browning 1 run (Kyle Bielen kick), 5:27
EG – Rudy Martinez 7 run (O’Rourke pass from Soohoo), 2:26
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