Dayton outlasts Truckee in defensive showdown
Sierra Nevada Media Group
As coach Rick Walker approached the north end zone and held up seven fingers, a jubilant Dayton High football team instantly responded.
The Dust Devils chanted for several seconds ” “Seven … seven … seven …” ” symbolic of their seventh straight win of the season, a 13-7 triumph against Truckee Saturday in a showdown between Northern 3A divisional front-runners that saw the outcome hang in the balance until the final play on an ideal autumn afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
Brandon Aguilera broke a 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the go-ahead score and Dayton’s opportunistic defense came up with two turnovers in the red zone inside the final four minutes to make the lead stand as the Dust Devils (3-0 conference, 7-0 overall) took over sole possession of first-place in a tight Northern 3A race.
Turnovers were a big story for the Wolverines (2-1, 4-3), who gave up three fumbles and two interceptions.
“You can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer, whose squad had a four-game win streak ended.
Walker was understandably elated afterward. Dayton has never been 7-0 before and now has its first-ever win over Truckee. Before Walker took over as head coach in 2001, the Dust Devils had never even had a winning season to celebrate.
“This is a great feeling,” said Walker, whose Dust Devils are assured of their third straight trip to the playoffs. “I can’t give the kids enough credit for the way they bounced back and played as a team. Even when we were down, they stayed together. They’re all brothers and that’s what we’ve been preaching all year ” this is a brotherhood.”
Just like the final score suggests, this was a defensive struggle. Dayton, which held a 2-0 halftime lead, only surrendered three first downs and 165 yards in total offense. Truckee’s defense was certainly up to the challenge, allowing 165 yards in total offense, while Trevor Allen and Kyler Coxson each intercepted passes in the first half.
“I think we played solid football,” Shaffer said. “We did a good job on the run until that one big play.”
That one play was Aguilera’s 38-yard touchdown run that gave Dayton a 10-7 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter. The junior running back appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, only to get outside and ramble the rest of the way for six points.
“The hole was all clogged up; I don’t know how I did it, I just saw an opening and bounced outside,” Aguilera said.
Truckee had taken a 7-2 lead when Tucker Nevin blew through a hole opened up by left guard Kevin Wood and sped 73 yards for a touchdown.
However, Dayton responded with the touchdown run and then Aguilera kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 13-7 with 6:31 remaining. The field goal capped a 13-play drive from midfield that took 8 minutes, 36 seconds off the clock.
Dayton’s Wood was 3-for-14 passing for 26 yards in the first half, but he came back to complete 6 of 7 passes and direct two scoring drives after the intermission.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Truckee,” said Wood, a four-year varsity veteran. “They played hard. This was a really physical game.”
After the field goal, Truckee answered with another big play of its own when Keven Sahlberg burst through a hole on the right side of the line and raced 40 yards to the Dayton 9. A touchdown-saving tackle by Aguilera proved big three plays later when, on third-and-goal from the 1, Dayton’s Vadim Gladwill recovered a fumble for Dayton with 3:24 showing on the clock.
“When you have the ball at the 1-yard line you’ve got to punch that through,” Shaffer said.
Truckee still wasn’t finished. Dayton went three-and-out on its ensuing possession ” Paris Tenorio and Nick Krasensky combined to throw a second-down run for a 2-yard loss ” and the Wolverines got the ball back at the 37 with 1:26 left.
Dayton came up with another key defensive play moments later when Travis Wood came up with his second interception of the day, this time at the 4. Dayton’s offense again went three-and-out and punted the ball away out of its own end zone to give Truckee one last opportunity with 26 seconds showing on the clock. However, three straight passes fell incomplete as time expired.
“I told the kids it’s a tough loss,” Shaffer said. “We should have won the game, 14-13. But with that said, you can’t go around with your head in the sand, with a ‘woe is me’ attitude. Now we’ve gotta go back and prepare for Spring Creek. We get to find out what kind of character we have.”
Truckee hosts Spring Creek this coming Saturday and then concludes the regular season at Sparks. Shaffer was quick to point out that both games are vital.
“We have to control our own destiny and take care of business,” he said. “We’ve gotta beat Spring Creek and then Sparks, and they’re rolling right now. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Note: Both teams were without key running backs on Saturday. Truckee senior fullback Drew Stewart never played due to a concussion he sustained last week in a win at Fernley and Dayton’s multi-talented Erik Hopper sustained a deep quad bruise that kept him out of action throughout the second half.
Dayton 13, Truckee 7
Dayton 0 2 8 3 ” 13
Truckee 0 0 7 0 ” 7
D”Safety, intentional grounding in the end zone (in the grasp of Onstott), 4:34
T”Nevin 73 run (C, Esquivel kick), 7:31
D”Aguilera 38 run (Onstott pass from Wood), 4:51
D”Aguilera 34 field goal, 6:31
Rushing”Dayton (40-120): Aguilera 9-50, Feemster 13-28, Wood 7-22, Renya 7-20, Hopper 3-0. Truckee (33-166): Nevin 5-80, Sahlberg 13-63, Mazzini 6-15, Hodges 7-8.
Passing”Dayton: Wood 9-21-2-45. Truckee: Carter 1-11-2-2.
Receiving”Dayton: O’Brien 4-21, Aguilera 2-9, Vickers 1-9, Hopper 1-6, Onstott 1-0.