FERNLEY - The Golden Pick is staying put at Dayton High School for another year.
The Dust Devils got three touchdown passes from Travis Wood, 212 yards of total offense from Zane Walker and 11 tackles from Scott Brower in a 29-21 win over Fernley in the regular-season finale for both teams Thursday night.
The win gives Dayton a school-best 6-3 record and some momentum entering next Saturday's first-round 3A playoff game against Spring Creek in Elko. The win also gives Dayton a 2-0 record against Lyon County foes in the three-way battle with Fernley and
Yerington for the Golden Pick which is annually awarded to the best team in Lyon County.
It was a much closer game than expected. Fernley, which trailed by 16 points late in the third quarter, rallied to within two points, 23-21, with 6:25 remaining but failed to convert a game-tying two-point conversion.
Dayton opened up a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter after Chris Leonard only got off a 17-yard punt, giving the Dust Devils excellent field position at the Fernley 47.
On second-and-10 from the Fernley 47, the Dust Devils tried a double pass. Wide receiver Trent Wood took a backward pass from his brother, Travis, and launched a 35-yard pass to Danny Hopper for a first down at the 14. Walker carried for 13 yards on the next play and then pounded it in from the 1 to cap the four-play drive. Trent Wood's PAT was good.
Dayton wasted a good scoring opportunity on its next possession when Bubba May fumbled and Dustin Maguin recovered at the Dayton 39.
The Vaqueros were in the end zone five plays later when Steve Geil snuck behind Trent Wood and caught a 21-yard scoring pass from Dan Henderson (6 for 18, 90 yards). Geil's extra point tied the game at 7 with 10:51 left in the half. The key play was Henderson's 16-yard pass to Travis McCurry for a first down at the Dayton 25.
Dayton drove to Fernley's 17 on its next drive, but Travis Wood fumbled and Maguin recovered the ball at the Fernley 28. Travis Wood went 3-for-3 on the drive for 44 yards before the turnover.
Trent Wood picked off a Henderson pass at the Dayton 18 and returned it out to the 31. Dayton didn't waste this opportunity, driving to the Fernley 6 before the drive bogged down when Walker, who had 96 yards rushing and 116 receiving, was thrown for a four-yard loss on first down and Travis Wood misfired two straight times. Trent Wood came on to kick a 27-yard field goal to give Dayton a 10-7 lead with 2:19 left in the half.
Dayton took a commanding 23-7 lead when it scored on its first two possession of the second half.
The first scoring drive was all Walker. The senior ran the ball eight times for 58 yards before catching a 7-yard pass from Travis Wood (12 for 25, 247 yards), who did a nice job rolling right to avoid a heavy pass rush. Trent Wood's PAT made it 17-7 with 7:03 remaining.
After Fernley punted the ball away, Dayton drove 71 yards in two plays. Walker was thrown for a four-yard loss on first down and then Travis Wood lofted a ball over the shoulder of Bryan Jones and into the arms of Hopper, who outran the secondary to complete the 75-yard play and make it 23-7.
Maybe the Dust Devils thought they had the game won, or maybe just Fernley started to play better football.
The Vaqueros put together a 61-yard 10-play scoring drive late in the third quarter capped by Cody McDougal's 3-yard run. Henderson threw a two-point conversion pass to Geil to make it 23-15 with 10:37 left in the game.
Dayton intercepted two passes in the next three possessions and Fernley picked off a pass, but neither team took advantage of the mistakes.
Dayton was forced to punt after the second interception, but Travis Munoz blocked Hopper's kick, and Maguin, who showed a knack for being around the football, scooped up the loose ball around the 10 and took it in the end zone to make it 23-21.
Hopper got revenge on the next possession, punting the ball out of bounds at the Fernley 5 with 4:55 to play.
Fernley threw three straight incomplete passes, and Leonard shanked a 21-yarder that gave Dayton excellent field position at the Fernley 26.
Three straight runs by Walker got it down the 6, and Erik Hopper scored on the next play to make it 29-21.
Trent Wood could have iced the game, but missed his second PAT of the night.
Fernley drove to Dayton's 46, but lost the ball on downs.
Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281.