DAYTON - The Dayton Dust Devils continue to ride the slim shoulders of Erik Hopper, and the 6-foot 160-pound running back doesn't mind the extra weight.
Hopper scored five touchdowns, three running and two on pass receptions, and the Dust Devil defense held Yerington to 173 yards in total offense in a 58-6 nonleague win on Friday night.
The win gave Dayton, which piled up 663 yards total offense, a leg up on retaining the Golden Pick, which is given to the best team among Lyon County rivals Dayton, Fernley and Yerington each year. The Dayton-Fernley game on Oct. 27 will decide it. Dayton is 3-1 overall and Yerington dropped to 2-3.
Hopper caught scoring pass of 63 and 56 yards from quarterback Travis Wood, who completed 16 of 26 tosses for 339 yards. Both came on passes in the flat, and with some nice moves, was able to outrun the Yerington secondary. His scoring runs were 24, 1 and 43 yards.
"I've got confidence," said Hopper, who finished with 147 yards on 14 carries and 222 yards on eight receptions. "I try to do the best I can. I feel good with the load on my back. Last year I was only getting three carries a game. I wasn't expecting to do this well. My line likes me. They are blocking very well."
Dayton coach Rick Walker is certainly glad to have him on the team.
"Erik is the best athlete in school," Walker said. "He made a great run on that first pass (reception). The line gets excited about blocking for him. His vision is getting better and better."
This one was over quickly, as the Dust Devils scored on their first two possessions, both by Hopper.
On the game's sixth play, Hopper caught a pass in the right flat on a third-and-9 play and completed the 63-yard pass and run play. Jerry Trigueros' PAT made it 7-0 with 10:07 left.
Four plays later, Jordan Stokes forced a fumble, which Hopper, who else, recovered at the Dayton 47. A 13-yard run by Hopper and Wood's 13-yard pass to Brandon Aguilera gave Dayton a first down at the Lions' 24.
Wood went for the end zone on the next play, but Stokes and a Yerington defender got their feet tangled up, and the pass sailed incomplete. Hopper ran it in on the next play, and the PAT made it 14-0 with 6:22 left.
The Dust Devils' offense seemed to bog down over the next several minutes, and Yerington managed to put together a nice 83-yard drive which was capped by Ricky Menesini's 27-yard scoring run with 4 minutes left in the half. Menesini was the only bright spot on an otherwise dismal night, picking up 108 yards rushing on 20 carries.
Dayton rebounded nicely, scoring twice in the final 1:59, as Wood threw a 6-yard scoring pass to Stokes (5 catches, 91 yards) and Trigueros kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired.
"We didn't sustain much (for a while)," Walker said. "Had we not got those 10 points at the end of the half, Yerington might have come out much more fired up."
The Dust Devils carried that over to the second half, scoring on four of their five second-half possessions, including a 22-yard run by reserve quarterback James Yeater.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281