SPARKS - Any good feelings leftover from Sparks' first win of its season were wiped away Friday night as Dayton rolled to a 47-25 win.
The difference in the game came down to the first quarter, when Sparks dug itself an early hole that it was unable to climb out of the rest of the way.
Less than a minute into the game, Sparks was behind on the scoreboard. On just the second play of the game, the Dust Devils' Cody Yeater broke through the line of scrimmage and past the Sparks secondary for a 74-yard touchdown and 7-0 DHS lead.
Fifty seconds later, Dayton was once again in the end zone when Tyler Firestone scooped up a fumble by the Railroaders' Quinn Lightfoot and returned the ball 22 yards for the 14-0 advantage.
Sparks' next drive went three-and-out and Dayton capitalized on the quick punt. Wide receiver Taryn Aguilera made a diving catch over his right shoulder on a pass from Austin Fletcher, landing in the end zone and putting the Dust Devils up 19-0 just nine minutes into the game.
"Our goal tonight was to get off to a fast start, because usually everybody gets off to a fast start on us, and then we're clawing our way back in," Dayton coach Rob Turner said. "I kept telling the kids 'Sparks can score quick,' and they did. Luckily we had some big plays to keep that distance. We got away with a win."
Another Sparks punt gave the Dust Devils the ball at their own 40-yard line. Dayton quickly got into scoring territory after a 19-yard run by Firestone and a 20-yard scamper by Yeater ignited a drive. It looked like the Railroaders had finally slowed Dayton's offense, forcing a third down in the red zone, but Fletcher took a quarterback keeper 18 yards for a touchdown to start the second quarter.
"We have to come out in the beginning of the game and set the tone, especially with running the ball and stopping the run," Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said. "We can't wait until halftime or the second quarter to start establishing that line of scrimmage. We have to do it at the beginning."
The Railroaders finally got on the scoreboard on their next possession, putting together a 65-yard drive that was highlighted by a 29-yard pass from GeoVasquez to Erik Garcia, who leaped high over a Dayton cornerback and snagged the ball over his head. Ramon Covarrubias then punched the ball in from four yards out, making the score 26-6, which remained the score at halftime.
After Sparks cut the lead to 26-12 early in the second half, Dayton responded with a 64-yard drive of small runs that was capped off by a 7-yard sweep for a touchdown by Yeater, bringing the score to 33-12 just before the end of the third quarter.
The Railroaders struck right back though. Lightfoot returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the Dayton 15-yard line and then Sparks got into the end zone with a jump ball to Garcia that he grabbed over two defenders, bringing Sparks to within two scores at 33-19.
That was the closest the Railroaders would get. Dayton recovered an onside kick and scored just 14 seconds later when Yeater started on a sweep to the right before cutting across the field for a 47-yard score.
Sparks turned its next possession over on an interception which Dayton turned into more points, with Firestone finishing off a 72-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone for the 47-19 lead.
The Railroaders' defense gave up 332 yards on the ground, with Yeater accounting for 201 of those yards on 14 carries. Firestone added 14 carries with 80 yards and a touchdown. He also had a 10 tackles and the interception and fumble return for a touchdown.
Dayton, 5-3, hosts Spring Creek on Friday.