EL DORADO — The Gold Nugget has a new home.
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Fueled by 264 yards rushing and several big scoring runs, the El Dorado Cougars scored just their second win in the series, beating the host Union Mine Diamondbacks 34-20 Friday.
“It’s great to bring the trophy back,” El Dorado coach Joseph Volek said. “Hats off to Union Mine. They’re a well-coached team and they came ready to play. I’m proud of our kids. They played hard and getting a big lead early was key.”
The Cougars found the end zone first on a Logan Kirby 2-yard run. Two possessions later, El Dorado added another score as quarterback Nick Bonniksen raced 62 yards.
“They (El Dorado) outplayed us tonight and deserved to win,” Union Mine coach Dave Johnson said. “Our kids played hard. We’ve got a lot of young guys in there and El Dorado came out very aggressive and really took away what were able to do well which is running the ball”
Union Mine found the end zone next as Austin Rigsby’s 1-yard run cut the lead to 13-7. Brody Pearman completed four passes on the drive, finishing with 147 yards on 11-of-19 passing. Nate Brown led the D-backs with four catches for 40 yards and Tyler Parker added 28 yards on four grabs.
El Dorado went right back to work. Kirby’s 41-yard reception moved the Cougars to the 2 yard line where Bonniksen scored his second touchdown. A quick three-and-out from the D’backs gave the ball back to El Dorado and two plays later Kirby scored on a nifty 46-yard run.
Kirby led the Cougars with 97 yards on 12 carries. Tyler Clanin added 96 on 10 carries and Bonniksen chipped in 69 on five totes.
“We definitely moved the ball the first half and I though Nick (Bonniksen) managed the game well,” Volek said.
Union Mine answered with just 14 ticks on the clock as Pearman carried from 2 yards out to cut the deficit to 27-13.
The Cougars extended early in the third quarter as Clanin raced 42 yards for a 34-13 El Dorado advantage. Union Mine responded as Math Cathey took a Pearman screen pass 60 yards to cut the lead to 34-20. Two plays later the Cougars gave it back on a fumble as momentum bounced Union Mine’s way.
“That play was big there, getting the score and then getting the turnover,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t take advantage. If we score it’s a one score game and who knows what happens.”
Fortunately for the Cougars, its defense held on a fourth-and-10 play, essentially locking down the win.
“A lot of credit goes to Union Mine in that second half,” Volek said. “We kinda backed off a bit and you saw how quickly it got close there.”
Bonniksen added 107 yards on nine-of-14 passing. Zach Culp led the Cougars with 47 yards on five catches. Kirby added 41 yards and Sam Osterhout had a 14-yard reception.