LOVELOCK - Last October, the Fernley High School football team saw its season end with a heart breaking one-point loss to Rite of Passage. Friday night, the tables were turned to kick off the 2000 season when Joey Fennessey scored on a seven-yard touchdown run in the final minute to lift the Vaqueros to a 36-30 non-conference victory against Pershing County.
Fernley scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 22-14 deficit and win a battle between teams that are touted as playoff contenders in their respective divisions.
"It was good game for us because we came from behind to win. We came from behind big-time, which makes this a great character builder for our kids," said Fernley coach Dave Hart, whose squad last season missed the 3A playoffs for the first time in the 1990s.
"And it was a good game for Lovelock because they played very well. I'll tell you, Lovelock is going to be a handful in that 2A. They ran the option well, they controlled the clock and hung tough."
The Mustangs took a 30-28 lead with a little over three minutes to go when Scott Santos ran back a fumble from near midfield for the go-ahead touchdown.
"We got the ball back and marched down the field to win," Hart said.
The key play on the drive came when Fennessey came up with a 34-yard reception from quarterback Matt Lambeth on a third-and-long play.
"The ball was deflected off one of our guys and Joey came from out of nowhere to make a diving catch," Hart said. "It was a helluva of a job on Matt's part to scramble away to avoid sack, then Joey made a great catch at the other end."
After Fennessey's touchdown run, Bryson Frazier interception for Fernley to kill any hopes Pershing had of making a last-ditch comeback.
Lambeth finished the night 10-for-20 in the passing department, good for 259 yards and three touchdowns. The junior threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Adam Schwabb in the third quarter and later had a 63-yard scoring pass to Dan Maguin to give Fernley a 28-22 lead in the fourth quarter.
Pershing County's option-oriented attack was led by running back Buzz Brooks with 134 yards rushing on 23 carries and quarterback Dave Knight with 131 yards on 17 carries.
The Vaqueros have a week off before they travel to Yerington on Sept. 8 for the first leg of the Gold Pick games that will determine the Lyon County champion.