Wolverines fall short in overall playoff thriller
For the second time this season and only the second time in history of Dayton High football, the Dust Devils narrowly defeated the back-to-back state champion Wolverines on Saturday.
Only this win, a 20-14 nail-biter in overtime of the opening-round playoff game in Dayton, ended Truckee’s season ” along with any hope for a third consecutive state title ” while propelling undefeated Dayton into the second round of the Nevada 3A postseason.
What a game it was.
After a hard-fought and scoreless second half, the teams squared off in an overtime period in which each was given four downs to reach the end zone from 10 yards out. Dayton went first.
Facing second-and-goal from the 4-yard line ” this following a Truckee holding call on first down that set up the Dust Devils with a first-and-goal from the 5 ” Dayton quarterback Travis Wood connected with tight end Tommy O’Brien at the goal line for a touchdown. Truckee blocked the PAT to keep the score at 20-14.
Given their own set of downs from the 10, the Wolverines tried to pound the ball in on the ground, as junior halfback Cruz Esquivel carried on first down for no gain before sophomores Justin Vosburgh and Ryan Macken ran for gains of 4 and 1 yards.
Down to the final play from the 5-yard line, Truckee quarterback Tucker Ballister lofted a ball into the corner of the end zone for Ryan Roberts. The sophomore receiver was smothered by Dayton defenders, however, and the ball fell incomplete.
Roberts looked to the officials for a pass interference flag as an elated Dayton sideline erupted in celebration.
That wasn’t the Wolverines’ only opportunity to win the game.
With the score knotted up at 14, Truckee nearly pulled ahead for the win in the waning seconds of regulation after a controversial fumble recovery by junior defensive back Nick Tennant.
Brandon Aguilera, a junior fullback, received a short throw over the middle from quarterback Travis Wood before dropping the ball in an apparent incomplete pass. But no whistle blew, and Tennant scooped it up at midfield with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter to give Truckee possession.
As Dayton coaches and fans continued to voice displeasure with the call, Truckee quarterback Tucker Ballister dropped back on first down and connected downfield with a streaking Vosburgh, who had slipped behind the Dust Devils’ secondary.
Vosburgh, who was called up the previous week from junior varsity to bolster Truckee’s depleted backfield, made a dash toward the end zone before being caught from behind at the 3.
Following consecutive runs of 0 and 2 yards by Paris Tenorio, a junior linebacker who was called upon to run the ball eight times in the game, Truckee committed a false start penalty to bring up a third-and-goal from the 6. With 20 seconds remaining, Truckee opted to kick a field goal for the win. Esquivel got plenty of leg into the kick, but it sailed wide right.
Dayton took over possession, and Wood took a knee to end regulation.
The Dust Devils got on the board first in the second quarter when Wood hit a wide open Trace Feemster, who hauled in the pass and sprinted the rest of the way for a 38-yard touchdown with 6 minutes remaining in the half.
Dayton got the ball back after forcing a turnover on downs at the Truckee 40 on the Wolverines’ next possession. Three plays later Aguilera took the handoff and banged his way into the end zone from the 4, bringing the score to 14-0 after the PAT.
The defending champs did not give up.
Starting from their own 17, the Wolverines drove the length of the field ” with the help of a 35-yard run by junior fullback Tucker Nevin ” before Tenorio powered his way across the goal line from the 3-yard line. Esquivel kicked through the PAT, cutting the lead in half with 1:36 left in the second quarter.
Ryan Macken, a sophomore linebacker who also was called upon to run the ball for the Wolverines, gave his offense another chance before the half when he intercepted a Wood pass and returned it to the Truckee 22.
Four plays later, Nevin burst through a large hole opened by his offensive line and ran 12 yards for Truckee’s second touchdown. Esquivel made good on the PAT to tie the game with 9.6 seconds remaining in the half.
Truckee finished the season 4-6 overall and will look to return to the state championship next year.
Dayton, which improved to 10-0, will host Southern 3A Virgin Valley in the state semifinals Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. If the Dust Devils win, they will face the winner between Moapa Valley and Sparks, which defeated Spring Creek 27-6 on Saturday, in the state championship on Nov. 18.
Dayton 20, Truckee 14, OT
Truckee 0 14 0 0 0 ” 14
Dayton 0 14 0 0 6 ” 20
D”Feemster 38 pass from Wood (Aguilera kick), 6:00
D”Aguilera 4 run (Aguilera kick), 3:27
T”Tenorio 3 run (C. Esquivel kick), 1:36
T”Nevin 12 run (C. Esquivel kick), :09.6
D”O’Brien 3 pass from Wood (kick blocked)
Rushing”Truckee (45-182): Nevin 18-100, Tenorio 8-36, Macken 3-12, C. Esquivel 5-12, Sahlberg 5-12, Vosburgh 3-7, Raber 1-1, Ballister 2-1 (minus-28 yards on 4 sacks). Dayton (33-98): Aguilera 18-49, Wood 9-25, Feemster 4-18, Hopper 2-6.
Passing”Truckee: Ballister 7-10-0-120, Sahlberg 0-1-1-0. Dayton: Wood 18-25-2-213.
Receiving”Truckee: Vosburgh 2-48, C. Esquivel 3-44, Roberts 1-20, Myers 1-16. Dayton: Hopper 8-97, Aguilera 5-48, Feemster 1-38, Onstott 2-26, O’Brien 2-4.