Truckee football | Wolverines defeat Moapa Valley 27-7 to earn back-to-back state titles (w/ photo gallery)
LAS VEGAS, Nev. and#8212; Late in the fourth quarter, with his team ready to celebrate back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons, Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer blurted out what was on his mind.
and#8220;God, I’m so proud of these guys,and#8221; he said as he paced the sideline, waiting for the final whistle to signal his Wolverines’ 10th state title in school history, and fifth of the decade.
Minutes later, Truckee players crept up from behind and dumped an icy water cooler over Shaffer’s head. It was official. Truckee had defeated Moapa Valley for the second straight year in the 3A title game, 27-7, in front of a sea of red-clad supporters who traveled to Las Vegas to watch history Saturday night.
and#8220;That was an understatement there,and#8221; Shaffer conceded about what he said of his players, who finished a perfect 12-0 on the year, and 24-0 the past two seasons and#8211; a first in Truckee football history. and#8220;I’ve been proud of this group since they were in the eighth grade. They’ve overcome a lot of obstacles. They deserve everything they earned.and#8221;
The Pirates (7-5), who defeated the Wolverines 35-16 in the 2008 state championship before Truckee won 27-0 last year, proved a worthy opponent. They led 7-6 in the second quarter and threatened a couple times early in the second half after Truckee lost fumbles on its first two possessions.
But the Wolverines would not allow the Pirates to seize momentum, as Tony Rodriguez blocked a field goal attempt after the first fumble set up Moapa Valley deep in Truckee territory, and Truckee’s defense forced a punt after the next fumble.
Rodriguez then intercepted Moapa Valley quarterback Kelan Weiss, and senior fullback Morgan Nevin scored one of his three touchdowns on the night to extend Truckee’s lead to a more comfortable 20-7.
and#8220;In the third quarter, if we capitalize on those two turnovers I thought we were right in the ballgame and putting the pressure on them,and#8221; said Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis. and#8220;But they stiffened, and that was the difference in the ballgame.and#8221;
The Pirates made it a point not to let standout Truckee quarterback Ben Bolton beat them in the air. They loaded against the pass, forcing Bolton to hold onto the ball as he scanned unsuccessfully for open receivers much of the first half. Still, Bolton finished 5-of-7 for 90 yards before the break.
In the second half, the Wolverines countered by going almost exclusively to the run and#8211; and with success. Led by Nevin, who posted a game-high 142 yards on 13 carries, Truckee rushed for 129 yards in the second half while holding the Pirates to just 3 yards rushing.
and#8220;After the second turnover and we didn’t score, they drove it down on us basically running the football,and#8221; Lewis said. and#8220;I thought we defended the pass as well as we could tonight, but Truckee was more physical up front and kept us off balance with the run. That ended up being the difference, them running the football.and#8221;
To put an exclamation point on the night, Nevin broke through the Moapa Valley line behind effective blocks and won a footrace to the end zone from 45 yards out. After the extra point by Austin Ferreira, the Wolverines led 27-7 with 7:38 remaining in the contest.
and#8220;Our line had been working all game,and#8221; Nevin explained of the play. and#8220;They were bigger kids than us, always have been. And our line opened up a hole and some open space, and I just went for it.and#8221;
Nevin, like all his Wolverine teammates, was all smiles after the game as he soaked in the moment with Truckee fans who stormed the field to celebrate.
“It feels great to make history in this town and leave our stamp in Truckee forever. It feels great. We’ve been working all four years to do this, and we did it,” said Nevin, who also played a major role from his linebacker position.
and#8220;We were physically ready,and#8221; he continued. and#8220;We’ve been ready for awhile. We worked hard all week. We said it before the game, it’s all mental, and we had some first-half jitters, but we came through in the end like we always do.and#8221;
Bolton credited his teammates for playing well behind him in a game he said he wasn’t at his best, as he wound up with minus-26 yards rushing after taking a number of sacks for big losses. He finished 6-of-10 passing for 98 yards.
and#8220;I personally didn’t have the best game I’ve ever had, but that doesn’t always happen, and that’s why we’re a championship football team, because my teammates were there to back me up, and they picked me up. And we ended up going back-to-back with undefeated seasons. My team, we definitely did it together,and#8221; Bolton said.
Unlike last year’s championship in Reno, when Truckee jumped out to a big lead and cruised, the Wolverines had to fight to go into the half with a 13-7 lead on Saturday.
Truckee took a 6-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown run by Nevin late in the first quarter before Weiss drove his team 72 yards in 11 plays, ending with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Cooper. Weiss finished 14-of-30 passing for 153 yards, with three interceptions.
and#8220;We were going to let them nickel and dime us a little bit,and#8221; Shaffer said of the Pirates’ passing game. and#8220;The one thing we did not want to do was give up the big play. And even when they scored the one touchdown I thought our kids did an exceptional job.and#8221;
The Wolverines answered two possessions later with a five-play touchdown drive from their own 19. Nevin ran for 16- and 13-yard gains on the drive and converted a 40-yard reception to set up Mitch Nelson for a 2-yard score with 7:43 left in the second quarter.
Yet the 13-7 lead at the half was not safe.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Nelson fumbled and Moapa Valley recovered at the Truckee 28-yard line. The Pirates seemed poised to cut into the slim lead before Truckee’s defense held them at the 8-yard line, where Rodriguez blocked the field goal attempt.
Truckee’s defense took over from there as its offense added a touchdown in each of the final quarters to seal the win.
and#8220;I’m so happy right now,and#8221; Nelson said after the game. and#8220;All the hard work is done, it paid off. It’s the greatest feeling. and#8230; Our and#8216;D,’ other than that one big play, our and#8216;D’ shut and#8216;em down.and#8221;
and#8220;The second half we played Truckee football,and#8221; said senior defensive back Cory Ackerman, who recorded Truckee’s final interception with 1:58 left in the game. and#8220;We played with heart. And that’s what won us the game.and#8221;
In finishing a perfect 12-0 for the second consecutive year, the Wolverines outscored their opponents by a collective score of 528-65. Last year’s Truckee team outscored foes 552-60, sending the seniors out with a point differential of 1,080-125 in their varsity careers.
Truckee’s 24-game win streak ranks sixth-best in Nevada football history.
To view a photo gallery from the game, go to http://www.sierrasun.com/2010statefootball.
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