TRUCKEE, Calif. - Huddled in their end zone, the Truckee football team -- sweat-drenched, smiles abound -- belts along to AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” as it blasts over the PA system inside Truckee High School’s Surprise Stadium.
One might argue, there was no better way for the Wolverines to celebrate this dynamite win.
Facing league powerhouse Fallon, Truckee used an explosive rushing attack, clutch passing game and stout defense to dispose of the defending state champion Greenwave in a 28-12 Northern I-A victory Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Wolverines also snapped Fallon’s three-year unbeaten streak in league play.
“We watched them on film. They’re a really good physical team,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “They’re really good on defense executed on offense.”
Fallon (1-1, 3A) hosts Wooster on Friday for its home opener after it opened the season with a road win over Fernley. The conference loss to Truckee, however, is Fallon’s first in two seasons when Lowry upended the Churchill County school in the 2013 regular season finale.
“We talked about it right after the game,” Hill said about the winning streak ending. “They are good enough beat us. You’re not going to win them all. The real test for us will be how we come back from loss. We just need to turn the page and take care of business against Wooster.”
For Hill and his Greenwave, they will get a chance to rebound from that loss this week against the Colts. And it starts with taking care of the ball and not giving up big plays as Fallon’s committed five turnovers this season and gave up 72-yard and 44-yrd touchdown runs against Truckee.
“We did turn the ball over two times in the game. That’s the only thing we got to sew up a bit,” Hill said about the offense against Truckee. “That’s (five) entirely too many. (Truckee) played well. We just have to keep trying to get better. The defense played a lot better than we did against Fernley.”
Fallon’s last attempt to come back resulted in two turnovers hurt the visitors. Vercellotti fumbled on the ensuing drive and Nemeth threw an interception in the end zone with 1:05 left in the game.
“Obviously, to get a win against Fallon, which hadn’t lost a league game in three years, that’s huge,” said Truckee coach Josh Ivens, enjoying his first win at the helm over Fallon. “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with them in the past and we felt like we gave them a run for their money last year, and this year we got ’em and it feels great.”
Added senior quarterback Jayden Commendatore: “It’s huge. It really showed me -- and I think the team -- what we’re capable of going down the road.”
Indeed, Truckee’s championship pedigree was on full display from the opening kick, cresting midway through the third quarter during a decisive scoring drive.
Facing 3rd-and-25, the Wolverines, up 14-6, ran a reverse option to Tyler Davis (Truckee’s signal-caller last year) who flung a 23-yard dagger to a Max Wingard to keep their first-down hopes alive.
“When we were facing third-and-forever, we were trying to figure out what to do, and that was a great call,” Commendatore said. “And that kept us going, and that’s what helps me stay calm, knowing that we can make plays out of anywhere.”
A play later, on 4th-and-2, Commendatore did that just that, scrambling away from a wave of Fallon tacklers before feathering a 25-yard pass to a diving Wulfe Retzlaff, who was tackled steps from the goal line. Carson Mccarron polished off the showstopping series with a 3-yard dive into the end zone to extend Truckee’s lead to 21-6 with seconds gone by in the fourth quarter.
“Wulfe was in there because he’ll make a play,” Commendatore, who finished with 63 yards on 8 of 13 passing with no interceptions. “I saw him open, stepped into the pocket and just sort of let it go. I got drilled a little bit, but it was definitely worth it.”
For Ivens, the scoring drive was precisely what he wanted to see from his senior-laden squad, a unit determined to return to the playoffs and, ultimately, state after a three-year drought.
“We got playmakers that are making plays,” Ivens said. “When times were tough and we needed to move the ball, we made a lot of great plays. That’s really the difference, kids coming up and making plays.”
As was the case in Truckee’s season-opening win over Wooster, Cole Harrity’s playmaking helped set the tone.
Facing a 6-0 deficit in the first quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run by Fallon’s Cade Vercellotti, the Wolverines, sitting on their own 28-yard-line with a minute left, were searching for a spark.
In one snap, Harrity put the home crowd in a frenzy, taking a sweep to the near sideline and scurrying 72 yards, untouched, to paydirt, putting Truckee in front 7-6 following Jose Araiza’s point-after.
“Longs runs always get momentum rolling, and momentum is huge in football,” said Harrity, who had a game-high 123 rushing yards on 10 carries. “Because when one team has momentum, the other team breaks down and you just keep building on it.”
The Wolverines kept the Greenwave in their rear-view the rest of the way. In fact, Fallon’s only threat at tying the game came late in the second quarter. There, the Greenwave, sparked by Vercellotti’s 28-yard tackle-shedding run, strung together multiple first-down plays to move into Truckee territory.
The Wolverines defense, however, shored up when it needed it most. Forcing the Greenwave into 4th-and-10 with six seconds left, Truckee huffed out Fallon’s chance at leveling the count when cornerback Jack Englert broke up Christian Nemeth’s deep pass to the pylon as time expired.
“That was so crucial,” said Retzlaff, who had a team-best nine tackles. “It felt good to finish them off right before half to keep that lead in our grasp. Because we knew we were going to kick off to them, so we needed to have that lead before halftime.”
Added Ivens: “The stop at the end definitely gave us some momentum. For our defense to do what they did today ... I mean, they ultimately won the game for us.”
Mccarron rounded out the scoring for Truckee, juking and stiff-arming his way to a 44-yard TD trot with 7 minutes, 29 seconds left in the fourth. Mccarron finished with 68 yards on eight carries.
“Carson Mccarron came up huge today,” Ivens said. “Broke some tackles, ran his butt off. He was our practice player of the week this week, so I’m not surprised how he came out and played.”
Fallon’s other score came on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Nemeth to Sean McCormick at 9:35 in the fourth.
Thomas Ranson contributed to this story.