SPRING CREEK – The Spartans showed some versatility on offense, using the running game to punish Fallon’s defensive front and came away with the 38-8 victory.
Spring Creek will play another home playoff game this week and has an opportunity to advance to the state championship game. Fallon, on the other hand, exits the playoff field after winning state last year and playing in the championship three years ago.
“Last year was last year. It’s not easy to win a state title,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “You have to give it to those other teams. Spring Creek’s really good team. They remind me of us last year.”
The Spartans came out and ran the ball early against Fallon and were rewarded with points when Jason Painter came up with a 6-yard touchdown run with 9:31 left in the first quarter.
Painter turned defense into offense, picking off a Conner Nelson pass and taking it to the house for a pick 6 that put Spring Creek up 12-0.
“Turnovers are what hurt us in the first half,” Hill said. “They had a pick 6 to go up 6-0. The next time we got the ball, we fumbled on a pass play. We gave them a short field on that one, too. It should have been a 6-0 game at halftime.”
Painter kept his strong performance rolling with a 15 yard touchdown run that put the Spartans up 18-0.
Spring Creek’s defense held its own in the first half and shut out the Greenwave offense and only allowed one trip into the red zone.
Painter came away with another pick in the third quarter that gave the Spartans the ball on their own 45-yard line.
Head coach Joel Jund said Painter had one of the most impressive performances in recent memory.
“That’s one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen,” he said. “He was all over the place. He was running, catching, tackling, getting interceptions. It was phenomenal.”
Jon Jund went deep to Laine Keema on the next play and found him open down the field for a 55-yard touchdown with eight minutes left in the third quarter to push the score to 24-0.
Fallon responded with a slow, methodical drive that was capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run from Nelson. The Greenwave converted the first two-point conversion of the game to bring the score to 24-8.
Jund accounted for another touchdown with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter when he broke a 22-yard touchdown run. Jund also found Painter for a two point conversion that pushed the score to 32-8.
With 6:46 left and the Greenwave looking to throw the ball more, Dakota Larson came away with an interception that helped seal the deal for Spring Creek.
Trey Edson also got in on the act and came away with a 26-yard touchdown reception with 3:17 to push the score to 38-8.
Coach Jund said he felt comfortable leaning on the run game more than usual in this one.
“We’ve run the ball well all year,” he said. “We’ve also been throwing the ball well, so sometimes that gets lost.”
Despite being down late in the fourth quarter, Fallon did not deviate too far from its game plan and continued with read option runs and power runs up the middle.
Fallon also punted twice in the fourth quarter instead of going for it on fourth and long. Spring Creek did not send a returner back on either play.
The Spartans played at their usual high level despite having to make several changes to their lineup. K-Ci Slade’s knee injury kept him sidelined but the Spring Creek’s defensive front was able to force Nelson out of the pocket consistently throughout the game.
Breenan Reese and Patrick Leedy did not come away with any sacks in the game but were instrumental in forcing Nelson to throw the ball away and helped stop runs up the middle.
Reese was also part of an offensive line that kept Jund’s jersey fairly clean throughout the night. Bayley Porreca was tasked with blocking Fallon’s TJ Mauga and was able to hold him in check for most of the night.
When Jund was getting his jersey dirty it was as a defensive back. Matt Shanks’ torn labrum will keep him out of the playoffs and Jund provided help in the secondary for the first time this year.
Coach Jund has not started preparing for who they’ll face next but is confident his team can play well if they get strong performances from their offensive line.
“That drive where it was 28-8 and we ran it all the way down the field, that’s what playoff football is all about,” he said. “That’s just a testament to the offensive line.”