Dayton High ends 21-game losing streak
DAYTON — Sasquatch has left the Dayton High football program.
Those were the words from coach Patrick Squires after his team snapped a 21-game losing streak Friday night.
The Dust Devils jumped out to a 22-8 lead before holding on for a 44-38 victory over Lincoln County.
“Most teams have monkeys on their backs,” Squires said. “We had Sasquatch.”
It took a little luck and a lot of running from senior Austin Lunz for it to happen.
After cutting the lead to 44-38 with 3:26 to play, Lincoln executed a perfect pooch kick, a Lynx player was first to the ball but couldn’t corral it as it bounced away, allowing the Dust Devils to fall on it and chase Sasquatch away.
Lunz picked up five yards when the Dust Devils needed four with 1:07 to go and the Dust Devils found themselves in the win column.
It was a game of momentum and Lunz was in the center of it all.
The senior running back’s hard running opened up the early pass game that saw quarterback Carson Keith convert two passes on the Dust Devil’s opening drive — including a 28 yarder to Jaylen Towsley for the opening score.
“My six seniors deserve this. They worked their tails off and they deserve this. I am proud as hell of them,” Squires said of the victory.
Lincoln bounced back returning the ensuing kickoff to tie the game at 8.
Then the Dust Devils let Lunz take over. He took the ball on all three plays on Dayton’s ensuing possession finding the end zone from 15 yards out. After a nice defensive stop, Lunz scored on a 3-yard run to give Dayton a 22-8 lead to close out the first quarter.
“He was tremendous,” Squires said of his senior who finished with about 239 yards unofficially.
After Lincoln cut the lead to 22-16, Lunz’s hustle was credited with a forced fumble on a play that had NFL historians recalling Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” and Don Beebe’s hustle to force a fumble on Leon Lett in Super Bowl 27.
On fourth and 11 at the Lincoln 44, Keith rolled out to pass, as he went to throw a Lincoln defender batted the ball.
It went off the Lincoln defender’s helmet and was caught by a Lincoln player for an interception. The Lincoln defensive lineman had a semi-clear path to the end zone, but Lunz tracked him down and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Dust Devils in their own end zone for a touchback.
The play changed momentum and gave the Dust Devils the ball at their own 20.
Dayton went to the ground as Lunz and David Leach picked up 72 of the Dust Devils’ 80 yards en route to a 30-16 lead with 2:39 to play in the half.
Lincoln would cut the lead to 30-22 before half and tie the game with 3:49 to play in the third quarter.
“We came out so hard and it scared me. When you come out so hard you kind of have a let down,” Squires said.
Dayton entered the fourth quarter in a tie game still needing to learn how to win. A statement the coaches repeated to the team who appeared to be tightening up.
“We played a bad third quarter,” Squires said. “But we fought. We played smashmouth football. We fought back. It is 48 minutes, it is an emotional game.”
The final 12 minutes were ones to remember for Dayton.
Dayton scored just 1:53 into the quarter when Leach, who rushed for more than 100 yards — found the end zone from 11 yards out. The Dust Devils missed the 2-pointer, but found themselves with the ball just three plays later after recovering a fumble.
A five-play drive ended when Keith, who finished with 40 yards on the ground and more than 100 through the air, found the end zone on a 6-yard run giving Dayton a 14 point lead.
A good bounce and a Lunz first down was all that was left to chase away 21 games of frustration from Dayton.
Dayton hosts Elko at 7 p.m. Friday, as the Dust Devils look to make it two in a row.