DAYTON - The shootout for second place in the Northern 3A never materialized.
Two high-powered offenses in Tahoe-Truckee and Dayton met on Friday, but only the Wolverines were clicking on all cylinders as they rolled to a 34-14 win over the Dust Devils. Truckee moved to 3-1 in the Northern 3A, taking over second in the process and leaving Dayton to the likely position of holding onto third.
"Truckee's a great ball team," Dayton coach Rick Walker said. "Those kids are physical. They play hard. They get after you."
Dayton could never really sustain its high-powered offense as Travis Wood went 15-of-35 for 221 yards, with one of his completions being a 63-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Stokes late in the game. The Dust Devils' other touchdown came moments earlier on a 73-yard fumble return for a score by Wade Giurlani.
Wood did have several of his passes dropped. Dayton also didn't have an effective running game as Erik Hopper was limited to 53 yards on 20 carries. Stokes finished with seven catches for 152 yards and also had an interception on defense.
It didn't help that one of Dayton's key skill players, Josh Aaker, had his bell rung and was a little dazed, causing him to see limited action. Two of Dayton's linemen, Kyle Yoder and Sam Armstrong were also plagued by injuries.
In addition, running back Cory Cupp was taken away in an ambulance in the third quarter as a precautionary measure. Walker said Cupp had movement in all of his extremities.
But it didn't really matter against the defending state champion Wolverines, who played like they wanted another shot at Northern 3A leader Spring Creek in the NIAA 3A state playoffs. Spring Creek has already beaten Truckee 35-19 this year, but another meeting between the two schools would be an attractive one, Walker said.
"I think it would be a great game to go watch," Walker said. "It would be something to watch."
An ominous sign on how Dayton's night would be happened on its first possession when Wood threw on a fake punt at the Truckee 44, but his pass went off of Stokes' finger tips.
Truckee went on to march down the field with Tony Krasensky scoring on a 3-yard run to make it 7-0.
Robert Jones hit tight end Alfredo Oropeza on a 51-yard pass play to set up Truckee's next score. Oropeza rewarded himself when he fell on Ben Tonon's fumble in the end zone to give the Wolverines a 13-0 lead.
Tonon's 36-yard punt return to the Dayton 19-yard line put Truckee in business on its next possession, but the Dayton defense was able to hold. The Dust Devils then put together a drive with a key play coming on an 11-yard screen pass on third down from Wood to Hopper. Wood then hit Stokes on a 38-yard pass and completed a 7-yard middle screen to Brandon Aguilera, but the drive stalled at the Truckee 30.
Aaker recovered a fumble at the Truckee 42 on the ensuing possession and Wood completed a 16-yard pass to Stokes to the 26, but that was as far as Dayton could move the ball.
Truckee scored right before halftime, receiving a break on the way when Tonan fumbled, but the ball rolled right to Andrew Stewart who ran for 16 yards down to the Dayton 15 to set up his own 3-yard scoring run to make it 19-0 at halftime.
Dayton did execute a fake punt to begin the third quarter when Wood completed a 25-yard pass to Aguilera down to the Truckee 32, but the drive stalled at the 26. "I was hoping to be a little more successful offensively," Walker said.
Any thoughts of a comeback were then effectively dashed when Stewart ran 71 yards for a score. Tonan's run for the two-pointer made it 27-0 and Stewart's 3-yard scoring run gave Truckee a 34-0 lead at the end of the third quarter.
n Contact Charles Whisnand at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1214