In loss, Dayton scores at finish
For the Appeal
DAYTON — Dayton’s trying season ended with a touchdown Thursday.
After nine games without a point — down 48-0 with five minutes left — the Dayton football team scored a touchdown on its final possession in the final game of what had been at that point a scoreless season.
Fernley beat Dayton 48-6 on Thursday, but the final score was predictable and certainly not the most memorable aspect of the night.
On fourth down and eight in the fourth quarter, quarterback Dylan Torgerson rolled to his right at the Fernley 28-yard line.
It was the exact play call as the previous play when Torgerson heaved a pass to the right corner of the end zone tipped by a Fernley defender and through the hands of Dayton wide receiver Ethan York.
“I messed up,” York said after the game. “I should’ve caught that.”
On fourth down, though, Torgerson rolled to his right again, this time looking for running back Blake Fletcher.
He wasn’t open.
So Torgerson ran and York made up for the dropped pass with a block that cleared the way for a 28-yard touchdown run along the right sideline.
“I saw there was a hole,” Torgerson said. “(Ethan) York had a good block, and I got in there.”
York — the 5-foot-8, 130-pound wide receiver — blocked the much larger Fernley junior Shane Jeakins.
“I felt alive (on that play),” York said. “I felt I did something. I felt I made up for dropping (the pass on the previous play).”
For the underdog Dust Devils, the final possession capped a season of perseverance in the face of constant failure. Going into Dayton’s final possession, the Dust Devils had been outscored 469-0.
“For a minute there, it was running through my mind that we might not score, especially after the running clock (mercy rule),” said Torgerson, a junior.
“It was a monkey off our back that should have been off the first game,” Dayton senior Colton Cabral said. “It might have taken the whole season, but I’ve always said better late than never.”
Fernley racked up more than 200 rush yards before halftime, but hadn’t completed a pass. Heading into the final minutes of the second quarter, Dayton trailed 13-0.
But Fernley scored a touchdown with 13 seconds before halftime on a 29-yard run from senior Matt Taylor, putting it up 20-0, Dayton’s smallest deficit on the season going into the break.
Fernley kept momentum, though, and returned the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for a touchdown.
“We thought we were in it,” senior Jeremiah Sermeno said. “That second half (kickoff) crushed us. We had controlled time of possession. It was tough.”
Fernley’s second team was in the game in the fourth quarter, but that, just as the score, didn’t matter too much Thursday. Dayton dodged an infamous scoreless-for-the-season label, but even more important to the coaches and players, the team simply finished the season.
“They endured a lot that 16 and 17 year old kids shouldn’t have to endure,” Dayton coach Tom Eck said. “They should have fun. They should play football because they love it. Obviously they do because they’re still here. They’re still backing me. And I’m going to back them the rest of their lives.
“I’ve had some great teams and some bad teams. “I love this team because they never gave up.”