Dayton ‘brotherhood’ improves to 7-0
Sierra Nevada Media Group
TRUCKEE – As coach Rick Walker approached the north end zone and held up seven fingers, a jubilant Dayton High football team instantly responded.
The Dust Devils chanted for several seconds – “Seven … seven … seven …” – symbolic of their seventh straight win of the season, a 13-7 triumph against Truckee Saturday in a showdown between Northern 3A divisional front-runners that saw the outcome hang in the balance until the final play on an ideal autumn afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
Brandon Aguilera broke a 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for the go-ahead score and Dayton’s opportunistic defense came up with two turnovers in the red zone inside the final four minutes to make the lead stand as the Dust Devils (3-0 conference, 7-0 overall) took over sole possession of first-place in a tight Northern 3A race.
It also marked the first time Dayton football had beaten Truckee – the two-time defending 3A state champion – and tied the school record for most wins in a single season.
“This is a great feeling,” Walker said. “I can’t give the kids enough credit for the way they bounced back and played as a team. Even when we were down, they stayed together. They’re all brothers and that’s what we’ve been preaching all year – this is a brotherhood.”
And just like the final score suggests, this was a defensive struggle. Dayton, which held a 2-0 halftime lead, only surrendered three first downs and 165 yards in total offense. Truckee (2-1, 4-3) rushed for 163 yards, most of which came on Tucker Nevin’s 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Kevin Sahlberg’s 40-yard run late in the fourth.
Give credit to Aguilera, who ran down the speedy Sahlberg to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the 9. The effort paid off three plays later when, on third-and-goal from the 1, Josh Avery jarred the ball loose from Truckee fullback Cole Hodges and Vadim Gladwill recovered the fumble for Dayton with 3:24 showing on the clock.
“Defense wins championships and that’s what we’ve done,” Aguilera said. “All year, our defense has been our team.”
Dayton’s defense came up with three fumble recoveries (Juan Rodallegas, Brandon Seymour and Gladwill) and senior safety Travis Wood intercepted two passes, the last on a long pass at the 4 with 1:26 remaining. The Dust Devils also turned back a last-minute drive that ended when Truckee threw three straight incomplete passes from the 36 in the final 16 seconds. And for good measure, the defense broke a scoreless tie in the second quarter when Truckee quarterback B.J. Carter was called for intentional grounding while trying to avoid a sack by linebacker Anthony Onstott.
“Dayton played well and they deserved to win. You’ve gotta give them credit,” Truckee coach Bob Shaffer said. “We got that one big play against us, but other than that I thought our defense did OK.”
Truckee’s defense was certainly up to the challenge. The Wolverines only allowed 165 yards in total offense, while Trevor Allen and Kyler Coxson each intercepted passes by Wood in the first half. Wood was 3-for-14 passing for 26 yards in the first half, but he came back to complete 6 of 7 passes and direct two scoring drives after the intermission.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Truckee,” Wood said. “They played hard. This was a really physical game.”
Truckee took a 7-2 lead on Nevin’s 73-yard burst off left guard in the third quarter. There was no momentum swing at that point, according to Walker.
“They had their heads up when they came off the field after that play,” he said. “They just said, ‘Let’s get ours back.’ They played with confidence and answered back.”
Dayton drove 65 yards on six plays, capped by Aguilera’s touchdown run in which he appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, only to get outside and ramble the rest of the way for six points.
“The hole was all clogged up; I don’t know how I did it, I just saw an opening and bounced outside,” the junior said.
Wood completed a pass to Onstott for the two-point conversion and a 10-7 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
After forcing Truckee to go three-and-out on the next series, Dayton got the ball back at midfield and proceeded to run 8 minutes, 36 seconds off the clock before Aguilera kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 13-7 with 6:31 left to play.
“I’m speechless right now; I’ve been looking at this for four years,” Wood said. “Not just this one game, it’s everything. We’ve never been 7-0 before, we’d never beaten Spring Creek before and we’d never beaten Truckee before.”
This was one more step toward the team’s ultimate goal – a state championship.
“I don’t think these kids are going to settle for anything less,” said Walker, whose Dust Devils host Sparks (2-1, 7-1) next Friday in another critical Northern 3A game. “We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re not overlooking anybody. We can’t because it’s not getting any easier. Today was for No. 1. Next week is going to be for No. 1. And then we finish (the regular season) against Fernley.
Note: Both teams were without key running backs on Saturday. Truckee senior fullback Andrew Stewart never played due to a concussion he sustained last week in a win at Fernley and Dayton’s multi-talented Erik Hopper sustained a deep quad bruise that kept him out of action throughout the second half.
Dayton 13, Truckee 7
Dayton 0 2 8 3 – 13
Truckee 0 0 7 0 – 7
D-Safety, intentional grounding in the end zone (in the grasp of Onstott), 4:34
T-Nevin 73 run (C, Esquivel kick), 7:31
D-Aguilera 38 run (Onstott pass from Wood), 4:51
D-Aguilera 34 field goal, 6:31
Rushing-Dayton (40-120): Aguilera 9-50, Feemster 13-28, Wood 7-22, Renya 7-20, Hopper 3-0. Truckee (33-166): Nevin 5-80, Sahlberg 13-63, Mazzini 6-15, Hodges 7-8.
Passing-Dayton: Wood 9-21-2-45. Truckee: Carter 1-11-2-2.
Receiving-Dayton: O’Brien 4-21, Aguilera 2-9, Vickers 1-9, Hopper 1-6, Onstott 1-0.