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Truckee football beats Dayton

Colin FisherHow does that grass taste? Running back Nick Smith (31) charges into the endzone as Tom Hill (40) and Mike Acuff (41) watch Dayton linebacker Dustin Watkins miss a tackle.
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A high scoring first quarter, a rampaging offense, a vise-grip defense and a couple of fake punts were enough for Truckee to beat Dayton in Saturday’s home opener, 44-30. Despite several penalties, costing Truckee two touchdowns, the Wolverines were able to find enough big plays to pull ahead.

“We’re still giving up too many big plays and that’s what you can’t give up,” coach Bob Shaffer said. “We’re delighted to be 2-0.”

The game got underway with a bang as RJ Ballou returned the opening kickoff to the Dayton 45. But on the very next play, a rare Kevin Schlesinger mistake on a routine swing pass cost them an interception and a Dayton touchdown. Schlesinger rebounded by leading an impressive 90-yard touchdown drive on Truckee’s very next possession.



“First home game of the year, I was pumped,” Schlesinger said. “They watched film and picked up on (the swing pass).”

Senior running back James Ward capped the drive with an eight-yard plunge on first and goal, tying the score at seven with 7:47 left in the first quarter.



After a safety against Dayton, Truckee faked its first punt of the game on fourth and 10. Schlesinger, who is also the punter, passed the ball to senior tight end Mike Acuff for a 25-yard gain, setting up a touchdown pass to sophomore running back Tom Hill with 4:58 left in the first quarter, moving the score to 16-7.

For the Wolverines to score big, Shaffer knew that he was going to have to open up the offense.

“We knew that they were going to take a lot of people and throw them in the box and try to stop the run,” he said. “So we thought it was important for us to stretch them out horizontally and vertically, that’s why we did so much passing at the beginning in the game.”

A 75-yard run by Dayton led to a field goal, for a 16-10 score with 3:13 left in the quarter.

On fourth and 12, Shaffer called for another fake punt. That play opened up the Dayton D leading to a 68-yard touchdown run by junior running back Nick Smith, making the score 30-10 with 23-10 with 2:57 left in the quarter.

They still weren’t done with the quarter.

On Dayton’s next possession, they fumbled the ball and Truckee recovered on Dayton’s 23 yard line. That set up a 23-yard touchdown pass from Schlesinger to Ballou.

Dayton held Truckee in the second quarter and managed a touchdown of its own, as the teams left the field at halftime with Truckee leading 30 to 17.

The second half didn’t have as much bang, but Truckee kept Dayton in a corner. Halfway through the third quarter, Smith ran for a 34-yard touchdown run.

On Truckee’s next possession, Dayton senior linebacker Gabe Sumsion picked off Schlesinger on another swing pass and ran from the Dayton 43 to the Truckee six yard line, setting up a six-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jake Deen to junior wide out Stephen Novello, closing the gap, 37-23.

But that didn’t last long as Schlesinger found junior receiver JR Murphy in the end zone on fourth and one, making the score 44 to 23.

With 3:34 left, junior running back Justin Cross plunged into the end zone for Dayton, closing the gap, 44-30.

But that’s where the game ended. Dayton threw an interception to sophomore outside linebacker Shane Wright and that was that.

Smith had a big game with 185 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns.

“He’s capable of that every time we play,” Shaffer said. “He doesn’t have a lot of speed but he’s real shifty and he makes guys miss and break some tackles.”

Sophomore wingback and defensive back Jamie Maehler missed the game because of a right knee injury suffered in practice Thursday. Murphy got a little more playing time than he usually does because of Maehler’s injury.

“After the first (quarter), once we started rotating in and out a little more, we got more livened up,” Murphy said. “Actually, this is the best team we’ve played in a while.”

Truckee’s junior varsity squad lost a close battle, 15-18. They were driving the ball late into Dayton territory, but an interception with less than a minute to go ended the game.

On Thursday, the freshmen squad ate Silver Sage for dinner, 60-0. Brandon Peterson had 150 yards on five carries with four touchdowns behind a strong offensive line. The defense came up with eight turnovers. One interception by Micah Carbajal was returned for a touchdown.


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