Dayton falls to Moapa Valley
Appeal Sports Writer
Moapa Valley turned around a close game Friday night, routing the Dust Devils 31-12 in Dayton’s season opener at home.
The Dust Devils led 12-7 in the first quarter, but couldn’t hang on against last year’s 3A runner-up and its all-state junior tailback, Brad Weiss.
Weiss racked up 230 yards on 15 carries, including bursts of 20, 32, and 66 yards, and scored twice.
The Pirates scored first after a Dust Devil fumble deep in their own territory. After forcing Moapa Valley to punt on its first possession, Dayton took over at its 21 yard line. Senior running back Brandon Aguilera carried for five yards before junior Nick Bircheff fumbled on Dayton’s second play.
Moapa Valley took over at the 28. Pirate quarterback Max Jenkins hit Jake Pearce in the right flat for eight yards and Weiss carried up the middle for two more. On third and inches, Weiss took a pitch around the left side and beat everybody to the corner for a 20-yard touchdown. Jenkins hit the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The ensuing kick return may be a sign of things to come this season for Dayton fans, as Trace Feemster showed his speed and vision in the open field. Feemster took the ball at his own 20-yard line and ran the return right before breaking through and cutting left past the Pirates coverage for an 80-yard TD. Aguilera’s kick went wide left, but the Dust Devils had pulled within one.
Dayton wasn’t done as Anthony Onstott intercepted Jenkin’s pass on the next play from scrimmage, returning it 20 yards to Moapa Valley’s five yard line. Four plays later, Bircheff made up for his earlier gaff with a one-yard carry to put Dayton up 12-7. Coach Rick Walker elected to go for a two-point conversion, but quarterback Tanner Wood was sacked after an illegal procedure call had backed the Dust Devils up five yards.
That’s when the game turned into the Brad Weiss Show. He set up the Pirates next score with a 32-yard run from Moapa Valley’s 48 yard line with a 66 yard burst on the next possession. Aguilera made a tremendous effort to run Weiss down and force him out-of bounds at the four, but Moapa Valley scored two plays later and took a 21-12 lead with 2:26 left in the half.
Dayton opened the second half with a good looking drive, using Feemster to good advantage before grinding to a halt. Feemster carried five times for 38 yards including two 16-yard carries, but the Dust Devils couldn’t maintain the momentum and had to punt. Dayton would never threaten again.
Moapa Valley used Weiss and ball control to grind out the game, scoring a TD at the 11:16 mark of the fourth quarter. The Pirates got a 30-yard field goal off of the foot of Jenkins with 4:45 left to play to end the scoring.
“Disappointment, maybe,” was how Dayton coach Rick Walker described his feelings after the loss.
“We gave up more points this game than we did in, what, our first four games last year. We have to show up on defense, that’s one thing.”
Walker pointed to his team’s lack of depth as a definite contributing factor.
“And our numbers. I thought we were in pretty good shape. Obviously not. We’re pretty thin numberwise, and we’ve got to get in better shape. They were in better condition, and you could really tell there in the fourth quarter. I thought, when they first started running that sweep, we were there. We just started getting tired. We had the scheme, we just ran out of gas. I mean it’s not like a trick, That’s what they run. We had kids there, we just couldn’t make the plays.”
Walker saw plenty for his team to work on in practice in the coming week.
“This game doesn’t mean anything in our league standings. We’ve got to get back to work and establish our run. I don’t need to be throwing on third down.”
Aguilera carried 18 times for 43 yards while Bircheff got eight yards and a TD on four carries. Feemster racked up 76 yards on 13 carries.
The Dust Devils host South Lake Tahoe next Friday.