Dayton football wins another thriller
Appeal Sports Writer
DAYTON - Whether facing 3A or 4A football teams, whether coming from behind or protecting their lead, the Dayto
On Saturday, in the Northern 3A state play-in game, the Dust Devils found a new way to win, going into overtime to take a 20-14 victory over two-time defending state champion Truckee at Dayton High School.
Dayton quarterback Travis Wood found Tommy O’Brien for a 4-yard score in the extra period and the Dust Devils’ defense stopped the Wolverines on four plays from inside the 10 to preserve the victory and improve to a school-record 10-0.
The Dust Devils will host Virgin Valley, which took a 28-7 win over Faith Lutheran on Saturday in the Southern 3A state play-in game, in Las Vegas. The 8-3 Bulldogs, who finished as the No. 3 seed (the Crusaders were the No. 2 seed), defeated Dayton 26-14 in last year’s state quarterfinals.
It was Dayton’s first-ever trip to the state playoffs.
O’Brien, a senior, had been nursing a knee injury during the week and finished the day with two receptions for seven yards, but his touchdown catch helped ensure that the Wolverines, who won the coin toss and elected to play defense first in overtime, had to score a touchdown to force a second overtime and add an extra point to win.
“Travis told me to run that route,” O’Brien said. “I found an open spot, he threw it to me and I said to myself, There’s no way I’m dropping it. We find a way to win every game. We came together as a team.”
It was a wild finish to a game that was filled with dramatic ebbs and flows.
After a scoreless and defensive first quarter, the Dust Devils opened up a 7-0 lead on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Wood to running back Trace Feemster at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter
On third-and-1 from the Truckee 40, Brandon Seymour dropped running back Justin Vosburgh – a sophomore who was called up from the junior varsity for this game – for a 1-yard loss.
Truckee elected to go for it on fourth down, but Dayton defensive tackle Juan Rodallegas crushed running back Paris Tennario – who was called from the defense to help out at running back – for no gain.
Two plays and holding penalty later, Dust Devils running back Brandon Aguilera bulled in from 4 yards out and gave Dayton a 14-0 lead.
“The kids came out and gave 110 percent,” said Truckee coach Bob Shaffer, who had 11 starters out of the game and brought up four JV players. Truckee was forced to use seven different running backs because it was missing all its starters. “At 14-0, they could’ve folded. But they were going to go down fighting, biting and scratching.”
The Wolverines came back for a six-play drive, punctuated by a 3-yard score by Tennario with 1:36 left in the half, cutting the lead to 14-7.
Ryan Macken picked off Wood at the Dayton 35 on the next series and brought it back to the 22. Four plays later, Truckee tied the game with 9 seconds remaining in the half when running back Tucker Nevin scored on a 12-yard run.
Nevin finished with a team-high 100 yards on 19 carries.
“When we scored two (touchdowns before) halftime, I though we had it,” Shaffer said.
The third quarter was dominated by the respective defenses. Vadim Gladwill sacked Truckee quarterback Tucker Ballister to end one series.
Truckee’s defense stopped the Dust Devils on a fourth down on the Wolverines’ 47.
The Wolverines later picked off Wood for the second time in the game on the first play of the fourth quarter to end Dayton’s drive at the Truckee 36, but the Dayton defense refused to break.
Tennario later recovered an Aguilera fumble on the Dayton 41, but the Dust Devils subsequently stopped the Wolverines on a fourth-and-1 on the 27 with 6:35 remaining in the game.
With 3:07 remaining and Truckee driving, Wood, who also plays safety, picked off Ballister to give his team the ball at the Dayton 40.
Three plays later, however, a questionable call gave Truckee a chance to win the game.
Wood passed to Aguilera, who bobbled and dropped the ball. As he was walking away from the play, several Truckee players rushed to the ball and the officials ruled it a fumble.
With a first-and-10 on the 50, Ballister hit Vosburgh for a 47-yard pass to the Dust Devil’ 3, prompting one Dayton player to scream, “Noooo!” on the sideline.
The Dust Devils held on three downs, were aided by a 5-yard holding penalty, and with 15 seconds to go in the game, Truckee kicker Cruz Esquivel’s 23-yard field goal attempt was wide right.
All of which resulted in the overtime period and the Dust Devils continuing on their magical season.
Shaffer avoided any metaphysical descriptions of Dayton’s run.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a miracle year,” Shaffer said. “This is Dayton’s year. They have a lot of seniors…Everyone knows you win state championships with seniors. They have a ton of seniors with a ton of experience.”
But what an experience it has been for Dayton.
“Our team comes together – even through bad situations,” said Seymour, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound senior defensive end. “Our defense wouldn’t let them score. No way.”
Asked how much magic he thought his team had left in it, Seymour was succinct.
“We have enough left to win state,” he said.
“I’m exhausted right now,” said Wood, who was 17-of-24 for 191 yards, with two touchdowns and two picks – not including his own interception on the defensive side of the ball. “It was a team effort. I had a few bad plays too, but our team didn’t hold their heads down. We found a way to get it done again. We have two games to go.”
For Dayton coach Rick Walker, the game was exciting enough to take his mind off his aching tooth.
“I don’t remember relaxing a day this year,” Walker said. “Going 9-0 was nice, but like we told the kids, ‘How do you want to finish the season – 9-1 at home?’ The kids responded. Defensively or offensively, our kids get a ton of credit.”
Even though the Dust Devils are 10-0 now, Walker said records have gone out the window and aren’t the focal point.
“We were 9-0 and Truckee was fourth (seed),” Walker said. “We went to overtime. I’m going to break out some old Virgin Valley film. Maybe we can find some new film of them.”
Notes: Running back Erik Hopper led the Dust Devils with nine receptions for 98 yards…Ballister was 7-of-11 for 107 yards and one interception…Including Ballister, eight Truckee players shared the rushing duties…The loss to the Dust Devils was the Wolverines’ first in the playoffs against a Northern 3A team since losing to Manogue in the state championship game in 2002…Dayton and Virgin Valley will meet Saturday at Dayton High School at a time to be determined.