After a roller coaster start against Wooster in the first half, Fallon’s offense started to roll in the right direction over the final two quarters Friday night to hand the visiting Colts a 34-14 setback at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
Fallon had to work for its second Northern 3A win in three games and relied on the defense to put a stop to the visitor’s game plan in the second half.
Fallon coach Brooke Hill mixed up his game plan in the second half to frustrate Wooster’s defensive line after the Colts scored a third-quarter touchdown to narrow the Greenwave lead to 21-14. Wooster quarterback Hunter Vetter aired the ball out for a 31-yard pass play to favorite target Justin Waters with 5:12 left in the third quarter.
Alter Fallon held Wooster on its next series due to the defensive presence of Dalton Kaady, Jack Swisher and Sean McCormick. Kaady intercepted a pass on the Wooster 21 and ran it back to the 48 to put Fallon in good field position late in the third quarter.
“We were more physical in the second half,” said Swisher, a senior defensive back. “We were moving the ball and were more focused. We were reading them better on their runs and made the plays. Our pass defense was really good to stop the run and make them go to the air.”
Wave quarterback Christian Nemeth connected with his favorite target, Brock Uptain, on short swing passes and gave the ball to Cade Vercellotti to have him batter Wooster’s front four.
Vercellotti, who rushed for 138 yards on 20 carries, picked up 6 yards on one play and 3 on another to give Fallon a first and goal from the 5.
It didn’t take Fallon long to score.
Connor Nelson came in as quarterback and kept the ball on a keeper by rolling to the ride side for a 5-yard touchdown. Trey Rooks kick gave the Wave a two-touchdown lead, 28-14 with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter. The 10-play drive consumed almost 54 minutes.
Fallons’ defense stuffed Wooster’s running game in the ensuing quarter, forcing Wooster to surrender the ball in four downs after failing to knotch a first down after an incomplete pass on the 31-yard line.
In the next series, Hill replaced quarterback Christian Nemeth with running back Conner Nelson to give more versatility in the running game. Nelson’s quickness and ability to read the Colts’ defense led to a quick touchdown. Vercellotti picked up 3 yards, and on the second down, Nelson kept the ball and snaked his way down the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown.
“During the second half, we had Connor at quarterback,” said Hill. “This is something we are trying to give us a different look. He (Connor) can still throw. He did some things we liked and helped out in second half.”
Nelson felt the change disrupted Wooster’s focus.
“Coach did a little changing to pick up things,” Nelson said. “We definitely found rhythm in the second half. We came out flat, but I’m not sure a lot of people were down from last week. Once we got things going, the outside receivers did a great job.”
Fallon began the first quarter with its first drive stalling on the Wooster 21 when a Christian Nemeth to Brock Uptain pass was 6 yards short of making a first down.
Immediately, the Fallon defense hunkered down, focusing on running back Gabriel Olier who rushed the all three times for 22 yards. Fallon then stopped Chosen Gbenjo at the line for no yards.
On Fallon’s second series, the Wave relied on Vercellotti to run up the middle, gaining 41 yards before he capped the drive with a 4-yard run with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Rooks’ kick was no good.
Wooster shocked Fallon early in the second half, but it took a Greenwave mistake to help the visitors. The Colts took the kickoff and ran it back to the 49. Fallon stopped Wooster on four downs, but on the Greenwave’s second play, Fallon coughed up the ball on the Wooster 35. On the third play, Vetter found Waters behind the secondary and floated a 31-yard pass to the wide receiver. Ricardo Garcia’s kick with 8:30 left in the quarter gave Wooster its only lad of the night, 7-6.
“They got a score on us because we had a break on coverage,” Hill said. “That’s a big problem on us this year — the big play, a missed tackle on the second score. We have to shore that up. We are young but at a certain point. That’s not an excuse anymore.”
Fallon regained the lead late in the first half. After two incomplete passes, Nemeth hooked up with Sean McCormick for a 28-yard strike that found the Greenwave receiver just inside the end zone. A two-point conversion — a pass from Nemeth to Uptain — put Fallon on top, 14-7, with 17 second left before halftime.
Nemeth, who was 14-23, threw for 158 yards.
Fallon added another touchdown in the third quarter, coming at 10:58 in the third quarter on Vercellotti’s 5-yard run.
“We played much better in the second half,” Hill added.
While Vercellotti punished Wooster on the ground, Uptain snared 11 passes for 126 yards.