ELKO — A night filled with homecoming excitement and school spirit started well for the Elko Indians football team Friday night. Elko jumped to an early lead, but the Fallon Greenwave answered like champions and defeated Elko, 25-14, in a Northern Division I-A battle for first place.
The Indians (4-1 league) had an early miscue on its first drive, when a deep pass from Alex Puentes was dropped. The sure-fire touchdown would have been the strike Elko needed to put Fallon behind the eight ball from the start. However, Elko recovered and had Fallon (5-0, 5-1 overall) on the run early.
Elko played tough defense the first several Fallon drives, putting high heat on Wave quarterback Joe Pyle and stuffing the Greenwave running attack.
Elko put the first points on the board with 2:13 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Jacob Conklin completed a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a four-yard rush for a 7-0 lead.
The Indians halted Fallon on the next drive and scored once more. On 3rd-and-9, Puentes found Nate Klekas on a 16-yard strike to give the Indians a 14-0 lead.
Fallon, though, moved the ball down the field on its next drive and reached the Elko 25. Faced with a 4th-and-1, the Greenwave elected to go for the conversion. The snap was botched and Elko’s Jacob Pengally recovered the Fallon fumble and Elko took possession with 2:15 remaining in the half.
Elko could not pick up a first down and was forced to punt. Fallon marched down the field, using the arm and the legs of Pyle. Pyle picked up two first downs on the ground and two first downs through the air.
The Greenwave completed the 7-play drive in 1:11 and scored with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter when Pyle found Connor Richardson down the middle for a 12-yard touchdown. The score proved to be a change in momentum.
Elko led 14-7 at the half.
Fallon started the third quarter just how it finished the first half, moving the ball down the field with ease. The Wave capped a lengthy drive with a familiar combination, Pyle throwing a touchdown to Richardson.
Fallon added its third touchdown of the game just 1:49 after its previous score. Pyle moved Fallon 46 yards down the field in three plays. He capped the drive off with an 11-yard touchdown to Jordan Schultz to put Fallon up 18-14.
Elko moved the ball down the field on its next drive and neared the Fallon red zone but was intercepted in the end zone.
The biggest story of the second half was Fallon’s ability to move the ball, and Elko committed costly turnovers.
Benton Wickersham drilled a great punt and pinned Fallon inside its own 10. The Indians held strong and forced a punt and found itself with great field position, starting the drive from the Fallon 45.
Disaster struck with 7:24 remaining on Elko’s first play of the drive, when the Indians coughed up the ball. The Greenwave jumped on the fumble and ended the Elko threat.
The defense of Elko once again showed up on Fallon’s next drive. Wickersham and Brandan Holt sacked Pyle on third down and forced another punt.
The Elko stop proved to be inconsequential, as the offense failed to move the ball. Wickersham nailed another long punt to the Fallon 25.
The Indians forced the Greenwave into a 3rd-and-seven, but Pyle completed a pass down the seam to the 46-yard line. From the 46, Fallon drove what proved to be the nail in the Indians coffin.
Running back Nathan Heck took the handoff straight up the gut and broke through the Elko line. Once he hit the second layer, Heck was off to the races. The 54-yard touchdown gave Fallon a 25-14 lead with 2:36 remaining.
Elko took possession on its own 13 and the Fallon defense showed exactly why they are the No. 1-ranked team in the Northern DI-A . The Greenwave looked bigger, stronger and faster than the Indians. Even when plays seemed to be set up for Elko, Fallon defenders got off blocks and downed the ball carriers.
An incomplete pass by Puentes on fourth down with 1:11 remaining set sealed Elko’s fate.
Fallon’s defense allowed 148 yards of total offense and held the potent Elko rushing attack to 68 yards.
Pyle, meanwhile, was on point as he completed 20-of-28 passes for 248 yards and three TDs. Dylan Jabines led the receiving corps with 11 receptions for 127 yards, while Richardson hauled in four passes for 52 yards and two scores. Heck added 78 rushing yards on eight carries.
Freshmen stumble at Elko
The Fallon freshmen football team fell 57-25 to Elko last week.
The Wave struck first after Hayden Fulk recovered a fumble and Chrisitan Nemeth scored on a 5-yard TD run. Elko scored the next 14, but Nemeth added a 3-yard TD run after he connected with Clayton Steelmon on a fake punt pass.
The Indians ripped of 36 unawnsered points before Nemeth scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter. He added an 11-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.