TRUCKEE — Dayton waited seven long years for this.
The visiting Dust Devils outplayed Truckee in every facet of Saturday’s Northern Division I-A football game en route to a convincing 35-14 win. It was Dayton’s first win over the four-time defending state champion Wolverines since the 2006 postseason.
“I am extremely proud of our guys. It’s not something that Dayton does very often, is come to Truckee and win,” said Dayton coach Rob Turner. “When you play Truckee you’re not just playing those 11 kids on the field; you’re playing against the Truckee tradition; they’ve got such a great program here.
“They gave us fits here and there, but we were able to adjust to it, and our play fakes were working well against them, and our kids were ready.”
Led by senior running back Austin Fletcher, who carried his team on his back with four touchdowns and 313 yards of total offense — 208 rushing and 105 receiving — the Dust Devils struck early on a 61-yard touchdown run by Fletcher and never trailed in the contest.
The Wolverines matched the visitors’ first score with a quick strike of their own, but they struggled to move the ball most of the day. Truckee’s defense, which graduated its entire starting unit from last year’s championship team, had an equally tough time. The new group could not come up with key stops when it needed them most, allowing the Dust Devils to piece together long scoring drives.
“We’re not used to this. I’m certainly not accustomed to losing,” said first-year Truckee head coach Josh Ivens, whose Wolverines are off to an 0-2 start after losing their opener 48-0 at Lowry last week. “It doesn’t sit well with me, our coaching staff or the kids...
“It’s just inexperience. We rep all week, and it’s just not happening. So obviously we as coaches have got to do a better job and get these guys better prepared. And the players have to do a better job too.”
After Truckee tied the game at 7, Dayton marched downfield and scored on a 10-play drive highlighted by a 29-yard pass from quarterback Davis Winebarger to a wide-open Julio Meza. Fletcher capped the drive with a 9-yard run up the middle.
After forcing one of five Truckee punts, the Dust Devils drove down the field again before stalling at the Truckee 13-yard line. Truckee blocked the ensuing field goal attempt.
After the Wolverines went three and out, Truckee’s defense managed to come up with a stop on Dayton’s next possession. However, Dayton extended its lead to 21-7 on its next possession when Winebarger hooked up with Meza, who was wide open again, for a 36-yard touchdown play. Jesse Garcia’s extra point gave the Dust Devils a 21-7 lead entering the half.
The second half didn’t get much better for the hosts.
Truckee fumbled the ball to Dayton on the first play of the second half and punted on its next possession. On the Dust Devils’ first play following the punt, Winebarger connected with Fletcher, who stiff-armed a defender on his way to a 54-yard touchdown with 7:48 left in the third quarter.
While its offense continued to sputter, Truckee’s defense came through the remainder of the quarter, as Thor Retzlaff picked off a pass before the Wolverines blocked a Dayton punt near midfield. That led to a 10-play, 44-yard drive that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Louden Smith to senior Sean Daniel. Smith kicked the PAT, and Truckee had cut the lead to 28-14 with 8:16 left in the game.
The Wolverines could not stop Fletcher and the Dust Devils, however, as they marched 80 yards in 12 plays to the end zone. Fletcher waltzed in on a 2-yard run for the game’s final score.
With 3:31 remaining, officials suspended play for a half-hour due to lightning in the area. When play resumed, Truckee’s second-string offense drove the ball to the Dayton 42 in nine plays before the clock ran out.
“We kind of almost got back in the game,” Ivens said. “But then when we needed a stop — which we always used to get — we didn’t get it. They stuffed it right down the field like a Truckee team would. But that was a good Dayton team. Number 10 is a great player, and 1 (Skyler Berntson) is good too, and he didn’t even play.”
“I think it’s huge for our confidence, because I believe we have the toughest four games in our league to start with — Spring Creek, Truckee, Fallon and Lowry,” Turner said. “So we needed a win, and it was great to get a definitive one like this. It’s pretty huge for us.”