RENO — Fallon’s hopes of a Division I-A state title was squashed Saturday as Faith Lutheran blanked the Greenwave, 17-0, at Damonte Ranch.
The Wave (10-2) committed eight turnovers — four interceptions and four fumbles — as the Crusaders (12-2) ended a 34-year title drought. Fallon, meanwhile, must wait at least until next season to end its 35-year streak.
The Fallon faithful packed the stadium and sent the team out with a massive caravan around noon. While friends, family, residents and alumni gathered for Fallon’s first state title appearance since 1978, the fans left disappointed.
Fallon’s offensive woes started on its first drive as a pass from quarterback Morgan Dirickson to Tyler Bagby on a bubble screen was ruled a lateral and Faith Lutheran recovered on the Wave’s 24-yard line.
Fallon’s defense, though, held but Faith Lutheran’s ensuing punt pinned the Wave at their own 3.
After holding Fallon, the Crusaders marched 42 yards in six plays capped by a 7-yard touchdown run from Keenan Smith for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Faith Lutheran’s defense was at it again, when Dirickson was stripped and John Molchon returned the ball to Fallon’s 5. Three plays later Smith scored his second TD, this one from 2 yards out.
Fallon, though, countered with its best drive of the night. On first down from the Crusaders’ 16, Dirickson bobbled the snap and handed the ball to running back Trent Tarner. The handoff was late and Tarner never had possession, fumbled and Faith Lutheran recovered at the 12.
The teams, meanwhile, engaged in a defensive slugfest throughout the second and third quarters. Neither team was able to muster much offense, although Smith broke off several long runs to flip field position.
Smith nearly iced the game in the third quarter, but fumbled while heading into the end zone and Fallon’s Nathan Heck recovered for the touchback.
In the fourth quarter, Fallon turned the ball over on all three possessions plus a fumbled punt by Cameron Matzen. The end result was a 28-yard field goal by No. 8 to seal Faith Lutheran’s first-ever state championship in football.
Dirickson completed 6 of 19 passes for 68 yards, while his counterpart, Jacob Deaville, hit 7 of 15 passes for 91 yards.
Smith had a game-high 162 yards on 26 carries, while Tarner tallied 89 yards on 13 carries. Matzen had a game-high six receptions for 58 yards.