YERMO • The Lucerne Valley football team ran to the sideline of Don Price Field and hoisted the Miner's Pick as a group for the second year in a row when the clock ran out and the buzzer sounded on Friday.
Although the Mustangs played as a team, the pick and the night belonged to one man — Kevin Sheldon. Sheldon carried the ball 39 times, including a 41-yard carry on his first touch of the night, for 235 yards on the way to leading the Mustangs to a 44-26 victory over the Trojans. Sheldon's four rushing touchdowns and Brett McGinnis' extra points alone could have won the game for Lucerne Valley.
"He hasn't had that many carries in any game this season, but he runs hard," Lucerne Valley coach Chris Klinger said. "He had success so we just kept giving the ball to him. Everything just came together for him tonight."
The Mustangs stuck to the ground for the entire game, and they finished with 362 yards of rushing. McGinnis was Lucerne Valley's second leading rusher with 46 yards in the game. Silver Valley also kept with their rushing game. They had 235 yards, and were led by Jacob Nanez who had 196 yards and several explosive plays in the game.
Nanez and Carmelo Garret, 68 yards, kept Silver Valley in the game. After trailing 14-0 early in the first quarter Nanez broke to the outside for a 51-yard touchdown run to put the Trojans back in the game. Monroe Ili's two-point conversion took the score to 14-8. Nanez had three touchdowns in the game, and they all came on runs of 47 yards or greater.
After Nanez's first touchdown Silver Valley got some help from Lucerne Valley. A fateful fumble by the Mustangs' quarterback Alondre Logan led to a Trojan recovery and 50-yard return for a touchdown by Garret to tie the game. Lucerne Valley had trouble holding onto the ball in the game and ended with six fumbles.
"(The Mustangs) were trying to stop us in the middle, and they were staying to one side so we sent Nanez to the opposite side and he got some big plays," Silver Valley coach Freezy Smalls said.
The teams battled to a stalemate for the remainder of the second quarter, and the Trojans recovered a fumbled on their own 11 yard line with 30 second remaining in the half. However, instead of running the clock out quarterback Richard Mennecke took a late snap that went over his head and into the endzone. He recovered the ball as time ran out giving the Mustangs a safety and a 16-14 lead going into the second half. The final play was also a sign of things to come for Silver Valley.
"I was running down the sideline and yelling to tell him to not snap the ball and run the clock down, but he snapped the ball," Smalls said. "Clock management was a problem. It's something we worked on and need to work on more. Just knowing what's going on in the game, on the field and how to react."
Lucerne Valley wasted no time in the second half after allowing the Trojans to close the gap earlier. The Mustangs took the ball from Silver Valley on two consecutive possession after a turnover on downs and a fumble by John Ramirez and marched down the field for a pair of touchdowns by Adam Garcia and Sheldon to take a 30-14 lead. Silver Valley never closed to within 10 points after that play, and the Mustangs controlled the rest of the game and the resting place of the Miner's Pick for another year.
"It feels very good to get our first league win especially against Silver Valley and for the Miner's Pick," Klinger said. "It's my third year here as the coach and I've been lucky enough to win it twice."
Lucerne Valley 14 2 14 14 — 44
Silver Valley 8 6 6 6 — 26
LV — Sheldon 2 run (kick failed)
LV — Sheldon 5 run (McGinnis kick)
SV —Nanez 51 run (Ili run)
SV — Garret 50 fumble return (run failed)
LV — Safety, Mennecke tackled in endzone
LV — Sheldon 12 run (McGinnis kick)
LV — Garcia 15 run (McGinnis kick)
SV — Nanez 47 run (run failed)
LV — Sheldon 5 run (McGinnis kick)
SV — Nanez 52 run (run failed)
LV — Logan 5 run (McGinnis kick)