SPARKS – The Greenwave football team went back to basics, and it worked just in time for the hottest team in the league.
Behind a strong effort on both sides of the ball with a simplified approach, Fallon blanked Sparks, 35-0, Friday night at Sparks High School, setting up the stage against undefeated Spring Creek on Friday.
“It was a good game. That was a good way to come out,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “We were physical and we executed. That’s kind of what we wanted. They’re not a bad team.”
Senior running back Cade Vercellotti ran for four touchdowns for the first time this season – third in his Greenwave career – as Fallon (4-3) had no problems containing Sparks (1-6). Vercellotti credits Hill’s film viewing session on Monday after the triple-overtime loss at Elko.
“It was actually really good because he pointed out every single time when someone did something wrong on every single play,” Vercellotti said. “We’re really not use to losing and we’ve lost some games, then come to realize we’re not going to win every game and we’ll lose some. It’s a good thing we did lose some because it showed us we’re not at the top and we have to work every week to be best.”
With the offensive line creating holes for Vercellotti to bust through all night long, the defense responded to Hill’s message and played one of its most sound games of the year. The secondary stepped up, starting with Dalton Kaady’s two interceptions, including a 99-yard touchdown return with Sparks threatening in the red zone.
“It was easy to read and just running up the seams,” Kaady said. “I think I played pretty consistent on defense and I was going through my reads and taking what I can get. The linebackers were filling the holes.”
Hill was pleased with Kaady, Jack Swisher, Brock Uptain and Tallon Amezquita’s performance on defense. Uptain also snagged an interception.
“If a part of team has done better than what I thought, it is our secondary. A lot of guys stepped up,” Hill said.
Fallon scored in all four quarters, beginning with a two-touchdown first quarter.
On the Greenwave’s first series of the game, Fallon chewed up almost four minutes that benefited from a big passing play and a 15-yard late-hit penalty against Sparks. Senior quarterback Conner Nelson connected with Trey Rooks for 21 yards on second down to cross into Railroader territory before Nelson flushed two plays later for a 6-yard run. Nelson was hit out of bounds, setting up Fallon in the red zone as Vercellotti punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 8 minutes, 40 seconds left in the quarter.
“We just wanted to execute on offense,” Hill said. “When we took that first drive on the field, you can see we’re little different team than last couple of years.”
Sparks, though, wasted no time in responding as Cody Mcabee ran up the middle for 37 yards on fourth-and-11, and Jorge Dominguez ran toward the right for a 9-yard gain on second down.
Plagued by the big play, the defense stepped up, thanks to Kaady.
On third-and-goal from the 15, Kaady jumped high in front of the end zone to intercept the pass and proceeded to run down the left side of the field for a 99-yard score with 2:54 left in the quarter.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” Hill said of Kaady. “We did obviously much better job on defense.”
Fallon wouldn’t score until later in the second quarter when Vercellotti capped a seven-play drive with another 1-yard plunge up the middle with 5:11 to go before halftime. The senior running back carried the ball four times after Uptain snagged his first interception of the night and returned it 7 yards to the Sparks 38.
“They did a good job with what they were doing,” Hill said about the offensive line. “Again, we got into a good rhythm. We’re going to have run and it will open up Conner with the passing game.”
Fallon led, 20-0, at halftime.
Both teams traded fumbles in the third quarter but Fallon capitalized on its recovery.
Vercellotti carried the ball three straight times to open the drive in Sparks territory and later capped it with a 7-yard score on first goal to give Fallon a 28-0 lead with 3:38 remaining.
The Greenwave last scored deep in its own territory. Stuck on the 16-yard line, Vercellotti broke through the middle, running down the left side line for 84 yards with 10:58 remaining in the game.
Kaady’s second interception of the night thwarted the next Sparks scoring attempt and Swisher and Trent Thorn shared running duties to put the game away.