It took until the third quarter for the engine to shift gears, but when it did, the rout was on.
The Fallon football team clinched its fifth consecutive playoff berth with a 40-19 thumping over Spring Creek on Friday at the Edward Arciniega Complex. The Greenwave (7-0 Northern Division I-A, 7-1 overall) can earn the No. 1 seed with a win Friday at Fernley (6-1).
“We got in and put ourselves in a position to have some extra season,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “We want to win the outright league championship and we have an opportunity to do that with a big game at Fernley.”
Despite the sluggish start, Fallon exploded for 26 points in the third quarter en route to the win.
Wave quarterback Joe Pyle tossed a pair of TDs in the period, and running back Nathan Heck added two on the ground.
Pyle completed 17-of-26 passes for 193 yards and three TDs, while Heck finished with a game-high 186 yards on 17 carries and three TDs.
The offense, though, did show signs of concern as Fallon fumbled three times, losing the ball once.
“We need to win one more to be league champs,” Heck said. “A lot of it is the line. They allowed me to squeeze through and you got to hit those holes hard.”
The defense, meanwhile, was a little shaky as Spring Creek put up nearly 400 yards of total offense. Spartans quarterback Dillon Draper completed 18-of-24 passes for 206 yards, but was picked off twice including once in the end zone.
Still, the unit was solid in the first half and defensive end Justin Hatfield terrorized Draper all night. Hatfield tallied two sacks and numerous quarterback hurries and showed why he is the best lineman in the Northern DI-A and perhaps the state.
“The biggest challenge for me, was they weren’t necessarily chopping … but they would stand one guy up and another stamp on my feet,” Hatfield said, “and that is really annoying because it’s the baby’s way out.”
T.J. Mauga also chipped in with a sack off a pressure by Hatfield.
The secondary, though, was caught off guard numerous times as Fallon allowed several big plays through the air, a scene uncommon this season.
“Our defense was a little sloppy,” Hill said. “We got to be a little sharper in our pass coverage. You want to play a little sharper and they (Spring Creek) came out ready to go.”
Fallon’s sputtering offense, though, was slow to start as a desperate Spartans team was fighting for its postseason lives.
The Wave did manage a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter, but Spring Creek’s defense held strong in the second period.
Fallon quarterback Joe Pyle hit receiver Connor Richardson in the back of the end zone on a beautiful pitch-and-catch to put the Wave up 7-0. Richardson was draped in coverage, but hauled in the pass in the back of the end zone, all the while keeping his feet in bounds.
Nathan Heck busted loose on the ensuing possession for a 41-yard TD run. He took the handoff, ran up the middle and bounced outside and raced down the right sideline for the score.
“We came out flat and tried to get a few things moving and luckily we were able to score,” Heck said. “At halftime, we talked about establishing our run game.”
The Spartans forced Fallon’s Dylan Jabines to fumble on the Wave’s opening drive and held off a pair of scoring threats to end the second quarter. The Wave fumbled three times and lost one.
After Fallon linebacker Riley Williams picked off Spring Creek quarterback Dillon Draper, the Wave failed to score inside the Spartans’ 15-yard line.
Fallon’s defense, though, turned the tide on the ensuing possession when safety Connor Richardson picked off Draper in the end zone to halt Spring Creek’s best scoring chance in the first half.
Fallon raced down the field in the final minute, but came up short as the half expired.
Freshmen stumble against Spartans
The Fallon freshmen football team fell 52-8 against Spring Creek last week.
The Wave’s lone score came on a 1-yard TD run by Christian Nemeth in the fourth quarter. Fallon’s Hayden Fulk recovered a fumble in the first quarter.