SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Big plays and missed opportunities cost the Fallon football team in its 2015 season opener. The Greenwave lost to Tokay (Lodi, Calif.) 34-23 on Friday night at South Tahoe High, allowing three unanswered touchdowns to the Tigers after taking a nine-point second half lead.
“It’s early and we made a lot of mistakes,” Fallon head coach Brooke Hill said. “We’ll learn from it, get better and get after our next opponent.”
Fallon (0-1) led 17-14 at halftime, scoring last in the first half on a 59-yard pass from Connor Richardson to Evan Bitter with 8:34 left in the second quarter. After a Tokay (0-1) fumble on the opening possession of the second half, the Greenwave capitalized on a short field to extend its lead.
Four plays after Johnny Mayo recovered a Tigers fumble at the 28-yard line, Fallon found the end zone. On fourth-and-7 from the 25, Richardson connected with receiver Conner Nelsen for a 25-yard score that made it 23-14 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.
On the last play of the third quarter, Tokay scored on an 18-yard run from Nathaniel McAlister that cut the Greenwave’s lead to 23-21. Fallon went three and out on its next possession, and the Tigers answered with an 84-yard scoring drive capped by a 50-yard touchdown pass from Jared Zermeno to Chris Sanchez that made it 28-23 with 6:22 to play.
Fallon moved the ball down to the 4-yard line on the ensuing possession but couldn’t score. On fourth-and-goal from the 4, Richardson rolled to his right but was unable to find a receiver.
“We have to punch it in when we’re on their 10,” Hill said. “We had three times where we were given the ball in great field position and didn’t get any points. We have to make plays and execute our stuff.”
The Greenwave had Tokay backed up to its own 1-yard line after the stop, but one last big play sealed its fate. On second-and-13, Zermeno connected with Wayne Coberly on a deep pass and Coberly outraced Fallon’s defense for a 99-yard score with 3:20 to play.
“We knew they were going to (pass) and we were in a coverage where we should have been able to handle that,” Hill said. “They made a play, and that’s what you do in that situation.”
Tokay opened the scoring on the third possession of the game. Kyle Fleming took a pitch to the left, reversed field and ran behind a wall of blockers for a 71-yard score to put the Tigers up 7-0 with 8:26 left in the first quarter.
Fallon answered two plays later, when Richardson faked a handoff and ran 60 yards for a touchdown. The Greenwave trailed 14-7 after the first quarter, but scored 10 unanswered points before the break to jump in front by halftime.
Fourteen seconds into the second quarter, Dylan Ernst hit a 30-yard field goal that made it 14-10. After a defensive stop, Fallon took its first lead of the game on Richardson’s pass to Bitter.
Richardson finished 11-for-27 with 197 yards and two touchdowns in the air, and ran for 95 yards and a score on 15 carries. Cade Vercellotti caught a team-high six passes for 80 yards and Trae Workman ran for 31 yards on 15 carries.
For Tokay, Zermeno threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-20 passing — his scores were from 50, 50 and 99 yards. Fleming (125 yards) and McAlister (110) each went for more than 100 combined yards.
“We did a good job against their veer, but we have to be able to stop the passing game,” Hill said. “We gave up big plays, and when you give up big plays you’re not going to win the football game.”
Fallon (0-1) returns to action Friday, when it hosts Truckee (0-1) to begin defense of its Northern Division I-A league title. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.