The most competitive Dayton football game in nearly two years ended in a 20-10 loss Friday at Sparks and what police called a “crime investigation” before players got on the bus to head home.
After the game, Dayton coaches alerted Sparks police when players entered the locker room and found several personal items — including wallets, keys and cameras — allegedly stolen.
“We got back in the locker room and all our stuff was ransacked and stolen,” Dayton head coach Patrick Squires said. “There was money and property and keys stolen and stuff thrown everywhere. I can’t get a dollar amount. I’m sure it’s over a thousand bucks.” Several players filled out police statements before leaving Sparks High School. Squires said after the game Sparks High administrators were working with police and reviewing video footage available outside the locker room hallway. The investigation is ongoing, police said.
The alleged theft certainly hampered what was Dayton’s best performance since its 14-game losing streak began in 2014 as the Dust Devil defense came up big in key moments in the first half. On Sparks’ first possession, Raildroaders receiver Carlos Rodriguez scampered into the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run. But a holding penalty moved the ball back to the 15-yard line. Dayton (0-2, 0-2 in Northern 3A) eventually stopped Sparks on downs at the 1-yard line
On the next possession, Dayton stopped Sparks (1-1, 1-1) again on downs at the Dust Devil 31-yard line.
Then, with just under four minutes left in the half and Sparks starting at their own 5-yard line, linebacker Blake Fletcher sacked Sparks quarterback Kaige Lewis in the end zone for a safety. It was Dayton’s first score of the season and the team’s second scoring play since 2014.
“The tackle went down and I just blitzed and got him,” Fletcher said. “It felt good to get back on the (score) board.”
Dayton’s offense — which had several drives into Sparks’ territory — scored with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the game on a 23-yard Torgerson quarterback keeper.
Torgerson finished 6-for-21 with 54 yards passing and one interception. He ran nine times for 66 yards.
Dropped passes cost Dayton at least one score in the first half.
With about 8 minutes left in the second quarter and Dayton at the Sparks’ 20-yard line, Torgerson found C.J. Wilhite open on the left side of the field. Wilhite dropped the ball with open field between him and the end zone.
On the next play, a Torgerson pass into the end zone hit the fingertips of Jesse Schmidt before falling incomplete.
“We fought hard,” Squires said. “We really did. But we made mistakes. We had some dropped balls. But that’s football. You have to understand that bad things happen and good things happen. Our kids fought hard all night.”
With Sparks senior running back and track star in the 300-meter hurdles, Nick Van Patten, sidelined because of injury, the Railroaders primarily went to running back Hunter O’Meara. The senior carried the ball 25 times for 188 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown run to put the Railroaders on the board with 7 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
Senior Cody Mcabee scored Sparks’ second touchdown on a 5-yard run with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. The touchdown capped a 10-minute drive for the Railroaders.
Sparks took a 20-2 lead on a 5-yard O’Meara touchdown run with just under four minutes left in the game before Torgerson pulled Dayton with 10.
Dayton plays its home opener 7 p.m. this Friday against Spring Creek.