"Are you hurt or are you injured?" Dayton coach Rick Walker asked.
The question was thrown around all night in Dayton's 13-7 win over Spring Creek on Friday night. The Dust Devils watched on as teammates hobbled off the field, clutched their shoulders and were even taken away to the hospital. But when defensive leader Ricky Bodine came off the field early in the first quarter, he came back. When lead running back Kyle Onstott could barely make it off the field before falling to the turf in pain, he came back.
The Dust Devils showed what it meant to play hurt as Bodine returned to force a fumble and Onstott scored both of the team's touchdowns, including the game-winner. The only player that didn't return from an injury was Tyler Firestone, who made a touchdown-saving tackle in the first quarter and came up with what could be a broken arm as a result.
"Injuries and sores are two different things," Dayton cornerback Alex Cupp said. "An injury means you can't play. Being sore or hurt means you can play."
The win pushed the Dust Devils to a sight unseen in what seems like an eternity: 5-0 and 2-0 in the Northern 3A. Like in nearly every game they have played, they have made mistakes that could have - and in some cases, should have - cost them the game. The offense, as usual, didn't get going until the second half. Both of Onstott's touchdowns came in the fourth quarter. Defensively, they gave up an 83-yard rushing play by the Spartans' Logan Irvin on a misdirection that set up Irvin's 4-yard touchdown run two plays later.
But as they have done through the four previous games, they found a way to overcome those errors.
"The defense is outstanding," Walker said. "They gave us so many chances. The couple times we did move the ball offensively, we shoot ourselves in the foot. Defense was huge. Those guys put 21 on Fernley (in a 42-21 loss last week), so holding them to 7, I'm pretty happy with that."
Firestone's tackle came at the end of the first quarter when Chase Saxton found a hole broke free for a 28-yard run before Firestone, who was the only player to beat, tackled him from behind.
The Spartans (0-2, 2-3) ran for 206 yards, with Irvin leading the way with 114.
Bodine came off the field after just the third defensive play after he put a hard tackle on Spartans' quarterback Nate Hofland. He was writhing in pain as he ran off the field, but returned on Spring Creek's next offensive possession about four minutes later. The Spartans felt his presence late in the game as he forced Hofland to fumble in the third quarter, giving the Dust Devils the ball just 15 yards from the end zone.
The Dust Devils, though, failed to score as they turned the ball over on downs after being stopped on fourth and 1 at the 6 yard line. Spring Creek came up with the 83-yard run on the next play and put the first score on the board seconds later.
Onstott didn't get his first carry until the second quarter after he came off the field in the first series with a bad ankle. The injury would only get worse as the game went on, because of what the Dust Devils' perceived as dirty play. Nearly every time Onstott carried the ball, the Spartans' went for his legs. At one point, Walker complained to officials that the Spartans were twisting Onstott's leg unnecessarily.
But the junior, who leads the team in rushing with 484 yards on the season, kept in the game despite the pain. Onstott scored the Dust Devils' first touchdown with 8:14 left in the game on a 7-yard run.
On the Spartans' ensuing possession, safety Kage Walker picked off Hofland's pass with 8:03 remaining . Onstott ran for 7 yards on the next play, but hobbled off the field with the Dust Devils at the Spartans' 19 yard line. He limped back onto the field four plays later with his team on second-and-goal at the 3 and picked up the game-winning touchdown with 5:35 left in the game.
"We're a brotherhood," said Onstott, who ran for 94 yards. "My brothers have my back and I've got their back. I'll do whatever it takes to get a victory for us."