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  • José Luis Villegas Grant quarterback Isaiah Rios fumbles while being sacked by Nevada Union's Hank Humphers, who recovered the ball, in the second quarter Friday night.

  • José Luis Villegas Grant's EJ Taimatuia is tackled by Nevada Union's Tanner Vallejo, rear, and Hank Humphers after a five-yard gain in the first quarter.

Nevada Union belts Grant in renewal of football rivalry

Published: Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012 - 12:38 am

Hank Humphers didn't need a refresher course on the meaning of this one.

He's lived it, having grown up on the sideline of Nevada Union High School football games, mirroring the delight or anxiety of his father and NU coach Dave Humphers, depending on results against Grant.

On Friday, young Humphers experienced his first Nevada Union-Grant game as a player, and he and fellow senior linebacker ace Tanner Vallejo were paramount in keying a defense that belted the No. 3 Pacers in Del Paso Heights in a renewal of a rivalry that ended much the way it left off.

The second-ranked Miners of Grass Valley rolled 37-7 behind four touchdown passes by Kyle Cota and a rousing defensive effort against a program more accustomed to issuing the statement moments.

The last time the storied programs faced off was in the playoffs in 2005, a 30-0 Miners rout. Though this was the first time the contest wasn't part of the Capital Athletic or Metro League schedule, anyone involved would have to be in a deep fog not to comprehend its significance.

The teams pushed each other to excel in the 1990s and 2000s in the most spirited rivalry in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The schools have combined to win 10 section football titles since 1992.

Coach Humphers leads Grant boss Mike Alberghini 10-8-1 in head-to-head meetings since they became head coaches in 1991. All-time, NU inched ahead 16-15-1.

"I know this game is big, always has been, and we talked about it this week," said Hank Humphers, who rushed for 47 yards and recovered one of five Grant turnovers.

Cota, a senior, passed for 177 yards on eight completions, and a host of NU runners combined for 165 yards behind an offensive line anchored by guard Forrest Good. The line battered a Pacers defense that was a step slow and thinned without standout linebackers Tui Lopa, Moses Moala and Jonah Toma, all out with injuries.

Grant at full strength might not have solved Cota and the crafty wing-T with its myriad fakes and deception.

Cota hit Ian Davis for touchdown strikes of 59 and eight yards and Austin Marks from 10 yards out for a 20-0 halftime lead. Cota hit Humphers for a 38-yard touchdown for a 27-0 lead as the Miners looked like a poised, experienced championship outfit.

Both coaches said the rivalry will continue next season, including the return of a pregame luncheon with team captains to foster sportsmanship. The lunch didn't happen this week. The teams were a bit chippy Friday, pointing, gesturing, gyrating, though at the end, there was plenty of admiration. Grant players to a man accepted that they were throttled by the better team.

Alberghini cracked before the game that his wife may need to fit him with a pacemaker as, in his advanced age, it may take him longer to recover from stinging losses. The teams could face off in the Division I playoffs.

Grant's Marquise Carter-Petit rushed for 136 yards and had a dazzling 95-yard kickoff return negated by a penalty. Trayvon Henderson had 96 receiving yards from Isaiah Rios, who vowed a better showing next week after fumbling three times.

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