Dayton blows 16-point lead to Elko
For the Nevada Appeal
DAYTON – It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
After trailing for 3 1/2 quarters, Elko put on a late scoring flurry to stun Dayton 21-16 at Dust Devil Stadium on Friday night.
Dayton scored twice in the first half, once on a Austin Fletcher run and the other score was a fumble recovery in the end zone to build a 16-0 lead. The Dust Devils were able to hold that lead until the late fourth quarter when Elko scored three times in the final 3 minutes 39 seconds of the game.
Elko’s first score of the game came with 3:39 left on a 36-yard run by sophomore Jason Wilson. A successful two-point conversion brought the Indians to 16-8.
Elko attempted an onside kick, but Dayton recovered. Unfortunately for the Dust Devils, that possession was short-lived. Austin Fletcher fumbled on third down, giving Elko a first down at Dayton’s 40 yard line.
Senior Elko QB Dalton Ridgeway hit Wilson on a circle route for 33 yards down the left sideline. After a false start moved the ball back to the 12, Cody Green scored running off right tackle. The two point conversion was no good, but Elko had just scored twice in 47 seconds, cutting the deficit to 16-14.
The Indians recovered the next onside kick at the Dayton 44. The Dust Devils looked like they might get a stop facing a fourth-and-2 at the 36. Elko managed to get the first down as Cody Green bulled his way to a 2-yard gain. Ridgeway then found JT Pete open on the left sideline for a 25-yard gain to the 9. Wilson lost six yards on the next play and Ridgeway had to spike the ball with 15 seconds remaining. Ridgeway then lofted a ball to the back right corner of the end zone, finding tight end Alexander Rasch over the top of the defense for the game-winning touchdown with 11.3 seconds left.
This was a contest of two very different halves. Dayton held Elko to 45 yards in the first half while gaining 169. Dayton was outgained 191 to 67 in the second half.
Fletcher was the main offensive weapon for Dayton with 123 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. 97 of those yards came in the first half. Taryn Aguilera gained 51 yards on nine carries.
Dayton coach Rob Turner was frustrated by his team’s performance in the second half.
“That was really tough,” he said. “We were in a good spot at halftime. We probably should have been up even more than we were. We came out feeling really good … and we played not to lose in the second half. It was a different Dayton team in the second half.
“We made some uncommon mistakes in the second half that killed us, just killed us. The first half our line play was good, our running backs were running the ball hard and our defense just stoned them. We stymied them. The second half was just a different team.”
Of course Elko had something to do with that. The Indians kept Dayton pinned down against its own goal line, downing three punts inside the 10 in the second half.
Elko quarterback Ridgeway was 3-4 for 83 yards and a touchdown in the second half after going 3-5 for 12 yards in the first half. Wilson gained 50 yards on the ground and Cody Green ran for 58 after gaining 18 between them in the first half.
Elko had two long touchdowns called back. The first play from scrimmage for the Indians was a 66-yard scamper by Wilson that was called back for holding. Wilson also returned the second-half kick-off for a score, but a holding call nullified it.
Dayton is now 2-5 and will host Sparks next Friday.