Sometimes grit, determination and effort don’t show up on the scoreboard.
That was the case Friday night during Dayton’s 40-0 home loss against Elko.
Dayton found itself down 14-0 after just 7 minutes of play and 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. After Elko made it 27-0 with 6:38 to play in the first half, Dayton showed the grit, determination and effort.
“We got punched in the face real early. We had to gather ourselves and pick ourselves off the mat,” said Dayton coach Patrick Squires. “That’s a testament to this year’s team: We don’t quit. We are young, but they have to learn certain situations in football.”
The Dust Devils, coming off a 44-38 win against Lincoln County last week, had their opportunities against the Indians.
Throughout the game, Dayton had multiple opportunities for a big play, but penalties or miscues cost the Dust Devils.
“We dropped some balls that were touchdowns; we made some mistakes. We moved the ball, though,” Squires said.
On Dayton’s first possession, a bad snap on a punt gave Elko the ball at the 25-yard line. Five plays later Elko had a 6-0 lead.
On Dayton’s second possession, quarterback Carson Keith threw a perfect pass downfield on third down, but the receiver dropped it after it went off his hands, the play likely would’ve resulted in a touchdown. Dayton was forced to punt.
Keith was sacked a number of times as the Dayton offensive line struggled against the bigger and more physical Elko line.
“They are a very good football team. Their linebackers filled, we couldn’t get to the second level (blocking),” Squires said. “We have to do what we have to do and figure out how to win.”
Elko scored on the first play after the punt when Cooper Jones went 49 yards. Down 21-0 after one, Dayton forced an Elko punt and took over at its 16. After a nice gain on first down by Austin Lunz (72 yards on 16 carries), Dayton went backward on its next two plays and punted from inside the 20. Elko returned the punt to the 15 and scored three plays later for a 27-0 lead. With time running out in the first half, Dayton mounted a nice drive using its 2-minute offense. Keith threw a seam route down the middle and another ball was dropped that would’ve put Dayton at the Elko 30. Penalties and one more dropped pass, this one in the end zone, were the story in the second half for Dayton.
“We have to clean that up. We have to be more disciplined. Our discipline isn’t there right now,” Squires said.
Elko quarterback, Ryan Wickersham had a 50-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half and a 33-yard touchdown pass to cap the scoring. Wickersham was 2-for-3 for 47 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 63 yards and two scores. Gavin Byington’s shiftiness caused Dayton some trouble, he finished with 8 carries for 82 yards and a score.
Dayton (1-1, 0-1 in 3A) hosts Sparks at 7 p.m. Friday. Elko is 1-0 on the year. Last year, Sparks defeated Dayton 20-10 in a game the Dust Devils remember.
“We are not going to quit,” Squires said. “We are going to work hard. Next week is Sparks, we will see what happens.”