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Miners top Thunder 35-28

Cummings runs for four touchdowns in defeat
By: Russ Edmondson
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Rocklin High junior running back Jackson Cummings scored four touchdowns but it wasn’t enough Friday night as the Thunder lost 35-28 at Nevada Union before a packed stadium. The Thunder (1-1) jumped ahead 21-7 early in the second quarter when Cummings blasted up the middle for an 85-yard touchdown run. The Miners (2-0) would answer, outscoring the Thunder 14-0 for the rest of the second quarter and knotting the game up at 21 by halftime. Cummings, who has scored all 55 Rocklin points this season (eight touchdowns, seven extra points), scored on two one-yard runs in the first quarter. Nevada Union closed out a 42-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Cameron Ryan early in the third quarter to go up 28-21. Rocklin’s special teams helped set up the touchdown as a high snap caused Thunder punter Holden Huff to get tackled in the backfield for an eight-yard loss. The Thunder bounced back to tie the game at 28 as Cummings ran for a 63-yard touchdown on Rocklin’s first play after Ryan’s score. The Miners would score again two minutes later as Broughan Jantz threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Drew Hoskin with 3:43 left in the third quarter. This made the score 35-28 and that ended up being the final score. Rocklin had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, as the Thunder had the ball on the Miners’ 18-yard-line with 50 seconds left. However Rocklin junior quarterback Garth Keffer was intercepted by Nevada Union’s Chris Biertuempfel as Keffer was trying to throw to Huff near the end zone. Keffer entered the game after Rocklin’s first possession when starting quarterback, right-handed junior Tiger Sorenson, left the game with a left shoulder injury. Keffer finished the game 6-for-14 passing for 89 yards and one interception and he also converted a fourth down with a seven-yard scramble on Rocklin’s final drive. “I definitely enjoyed it,” said Keffer about getting his first varsity action at quarterback. “And I got to spend it with my 10 brothers on the field – I enjoyed the fast pace.” Sorenson was injured during a 59-yard completion to Huff on Rocklin’s third play of the game. Huff was tackled on the one-yard line and the play set up a Cummings’ touchdown run. Cummings, who finished with 23 carries for 226 yards to go with his four touchdowns, was very disappointed after the game. “We weren’t as prepared as we needed to be on defense – they scored 35 points,” said Cummings, who starts at safety. “And we just didn’t execute (offensively in the second half).” Rocklin coach Greg Benzel was frustrated with his special teams. “I think our defense did fine but we kept giving them a short field on special teams,” Benzel said. “But this game makes us better – all the adversity we had to face (Sorenson injury, lots of penalties) and we’re down in the red zone with a chance to win the game without our starting quarterback. “Garth (Keffer) is a battler – I think it gives our team confidence that he can come in like that and lead the team.” Benzel was pleased with how the offensive line created room for Cummings to run, especially on the two long touchdown runs.