It was a perfect night for Homecoming Thursday night at Dayton. The King and Queen were crowned, the floats paraded around the field and the weather was pleasant. There was a pretty good football game, too.
The Dayton Dust Devils had their hands full with a rugged, hard hitting North Tahoe Lakers team, before pulling out a 20-13 win.
"Our offense did a good job of ball control, and our 'D' stepped up big time again," said coach Rick Walker.
Things looked bleak early as Dayton recovered its own fumble on the second snap of the game before punting away to North Tahoe. After a short punt, the Lakers took over on the Dust Devil 36. Nine plays later senior Jaime Faulkner scored on a 2 yard dive to give North Tahoe a 6-0 lead. The PAT attempt failed.
The rest of the first half would belong to Dayton. Starting on its own 20 yard line, the Dust Devil offense reeled off five first downs on five plays behind the running of seniors Justin Cross ans Casey Skog. Cross punched it in from the 1 and Trent Wood's PAT attempt was good to give Dayton a 7-6 lead that it would not relinquish.
On North Tahoe's first play after the kick, senior QB Brian Carillo's pass was intercepted by Casey Skog at the Dayton 43 yard line. After driving to the Laker 6, Dayton was forced to kick a field goal. Woods' 24 yard attempt was good and the Dust Devils lead was 10-6.
After trading punts, North Tahoe had the ball on its own 32. With 1:32 left in the first half, Dayton recovered a fumble and had first and 10 on the Laker 27 yard line. Four plays later, the crowd thought senior wide-out Stephen Novello had made a great catch in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown, but he was ruled out of bounds. The Dust Devils ran out of downs and had to settle for a 32 yard field goal by Wood. The score stood at 13-6. Dayton's defense had limited the North Tahoe offense to just 10 yards after its first touchdown, while the Dust Devils ran up 166 of their own. Coach Walker liked the play of his offensive line.
"Our offensive line did a fantastic job. Our backs were getting 4 and 5 yards before anyone would touch them."
The second half saw Dayton's defense step up time and again as the offense put the ball on the ground three times with North Tahoe recovering each time. Senior defensive back Dylan Morris made a touchdown saving tackle on North Tahoe's first posession. Faulkner broke free around the right end for 51 yards before Morris was able to catch him from behind. After setting up with a first and 10 at Dayton's 20, The Lakers were forced to attempt a field goal. The snap was low and the attempt no good.
Dayton ran one play and then fumbled on its own 34. North Tahoe was held to 6 yards and forced to attempt another field goal. This time the Lakers faked it, but couldn't complete the pass. Dayton took over on its own 33 yard line. Three plays later the Dust Devils put the ball on the ground again, with the Lakers recovering on Dayton's 40. Time for the defense to step up. Senior defensive lineman Joe Sandoval dropped Carillo for an 8 yard loss as he dropped back to pass. The next play saw Carillo's pass tipped by Novello and picked off by Dylan Morris at the Dust Sevil 47. Big runs by Dustin Watkins and Kevin May helped Dayton move down the field. Morris carried it in from the 13 and after another Wood kick, Dayton led 20-6.
North Tahoe looked to be in a deep hole when a personal foul gave it a first and 25, but a roughing the passer call against Dayton gave it back the yardage. A blown coverage in the secondary left Faulkner alone down the middle for a 40 yard TD and the Laker's last score. Dayton was able to control the ball and grind out the clock from there.
"Four fumbles? It seemed like more." said Walker. "Our defense really stepped up. Those are the same guys out there. They put it behind them and play. Sometimes bad things happen. You have to put it behind you and these kids do that."