In what was sure to be one of the most physical wrestling duals of the year - a non-league matchup between Carson and Fallon - the end result hinged on the type of strategy seen in a chess match.
With the Senators holding a 36-33 lead with two matches remaining, Carson coach Tyson Thivierge wanted to take no chances and instructed Robbie Bozin to go for a major decision to ensure a win.
Bozin followed the strategy to a T and scored four third-period takedowns for a 13-5 major decision over Fallon's Cody Kapphahn in the 130-pound match and guided the Senators to a 40-36 victory over the Greenwave on Thursday at Carson.
Bozin led 4-2 entering the third period and after shooting in for quick takedowns (at two points each), he would let Kapphan get up and score one point for the escape before taking him down again and repeating the strategy.
Bozin went up 11-4, let Kapphan up once more and with 17 seconds remaining in the match, scored the final takedown and rode him out for the necessary eight-point margin for a major and an insurmountable 40-33 lead with only the Kyle Banko-Trent deBraga match to go.
"Bozin wasn't going to turn that kid," Thivierge said. "(Kapphan) was solid on the bottom. (Bozin) needed to keep cutting and taking him down. He needed a major to take the pressure off Kyle so he could just go out and wrestle."
In what proved to be a battle of tactics in addition to physicality, deBraga took a 4-2 decision over Banko in the 135-pound match, but the three points for the victory weren't enough for a Fallon win or a tie. Even with a pin - good for six points - Fallon couldn't have made up the ground gained with Bozin's major.
"They had to get that major," said Fallon coach Mitch Overlie. "Cody wanted to wrestle. He'd been suffering from an illness and I told him to tell me right away after weigh-ins if he could go. He gave a good effort. He wasn't 100 percent but you have to give it to Bozin for that kind of match."
Bozin, who has won championships in his last two tournaments (at Douglas and in Rosemont, Calif.), said the team's victory was sweet revenge after the Greenwave took a 37-36 win in the Fallon Tournament on Dec. 9. In that meeting, Carson had three forfeits, losing nine points.
"Coach (Thivierge) kept telling me to cut him and take him down," Bozin said. "I didn't want to lose that match, so I pushed, pushed, pushed. I like keeping Coach on his head, keep him wondering. I knew I had to pin or major to assure a win.
"It was very satisfying. We needed this, losing to them by one point. It shows. I thought it showed who's in better shape. I'm always pushing. You can never be in top shape; there's always more. And that's thanks to Coach."
After a tightly contested beginning, Fallon took a 27-18 lead after a forfeit at 215 by Carson and a Lyle Gardner pin of Max Schadeck at heavyweight.
Carson freshman Nick Schlager got his team back into it with a pin with 7 seconds remaining in his match with Colin Merkley in a 103-pound match.
"I fully expected it to be a decision," Thivierge said. "(Schlager) lost 6-4 to him last time. For him to come out and pin him, it shows his durability. That was a huge momentum swing."
The win closed Fallon's lead to 27-24, with five matches remaining.
"I knew it was going to be hard work and I wanted to just go out and try my best and see what happened," said Schlager, who notched a reverse and put Merkley on his back in the third period. "I thought I would beat him before (in their first meeting). I didn't wrestle that good. I went out there wanting to win and drive it home."
Carson took the lead on Owen Craugh's 34-second pin of John Gregory (at 112 pounds) and Todd Banko's 59-second pin of Sam Anderson (at 119) put the Senators up, 36-27.
Fallon's Matt Quist kept Fallon's hopes alive with a pin (5:30) of Carson's Adam Welch in the 125-pound match, but Bozin's major slammed the door on the Greenwave.
Overlie and Thivierge said this would be the start of a yearly dual between the High Desert League's top team - Fallon - and Sierra League power Carson. Both coaches wrestled at Montana State University-Northern (Overlie at 134 pounds, Thivierge at 184).
"It's fun. This is what we've been talking about for a long time - since Dean Schmanski (was coach at Carson)," said Overlie, who at 32 could pass for 24. "It's exciting. There was a good crowd. Our guys needed that exposure. We needed that for the team. Douglas would be fun too. It was a chance to do it when both teams were fairly full strength."
As soon as he arrived in the area, the 26-year-old Thivierge knew he'd want duals with the Greenwave.
"When I first got here, I knew Mitch was in Fallon," Thivierge said. "I saw him in the football season and we made a commitment for a dual. He's one of the classiest guys I know. We're good friends.
"We're ready to set up a dual year after year. It's great for their program and it's great for our program. It may be a non-league matchup, but it means a lot to both programs."
Carson took three other victories: At 140 pounds, Adam Carmazzi pinned Anthony Woller in 2:25; at 160, Travis Lamborn pinned Ryan McCormick (2:52) and at 189, Garrett Truesdell pinned Tyler Diaz (1:48).
For Fallon, Ronnie Sharmann was awarded the forfeit at 215; at 145, Trevor deBraga pinned Aaron Jolcover (2:33); at 152, Tyler Reibsamen pinned Martin Azzam (47 seconds) and Zach Hicks took a 6-5 decision over Matt Heath at 171.