First game of the season and its back against the wall, the Greenwave did what a championship-caliber football team does best.
Fallon came back from a first-half deficit thanks to its special teams and defense in a 19-14 season-opening win over Hug on Friday night. Fallon (1-0) hosts Fernley (0-1) Friday in the 3A opener for both teams.
“Having a close game, that’s going to be good down the road,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “It helps you learn in those games. You’re not going to blow everyone out.”
After surrendering a long touchdown pass that resulted from blown coverage, the new-look Greenwave responded immediately with a kickoff return for a touchdown when sophomore Brock Richardson found an 82-yard path to the end zone with 36.2 seconds left in the first half.
“That’s probably the biggest thing we got out of that was you give up a big play and you could go in the hole in the tank,” Hill said. “But we were able to, during the very next play, get ourselves a return and make a big play. That’s a great sign.”
Richardson, who was moved up to varsity during the playoffs last year, wasn’t expecting the kick to be fielded but took advantage of his blockers to give Fallon a quick strike before halftime.
“I’m expecting a pooch kick,” he said. “I had great blocking and found a hole and went through. It felt great.”
Fallon’s defense shut out Hug for the entire second half, which allowed Fallon’s offense to overtake the lead. Sophomore Tommy McCormick intercepted Hug on the second play from scrimmage and brother, Sean, a junior, plowed in for a 9-yard touchdown with 2:59 left in the third quarter.
Sean McCormick, in his first game since breaking his collarbone midway last season, hauled in the first touchdown on the Greenwave’s opening drive of the game. Sophomore Elijah Jackson found McCormick deep on the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
“I’m happy with the win. Defensively, we have a lot to work on,” McCormick said.
In his varsity debut, Jackson completed 8 of 18 passes for 137 yards and one touchdown and finished with nine carries for 91 yards. Jackson’s favorite target was McCormick, who grabbed five catches for 114 yards and also ran for 44 yards on four carries. Junior Reid Clyburn finished with six carries for 50 yards and sophomore Richardson had three receptions for 23 yards.
Defensively, Gabe Hardy recorded 12 total tackles to lead the Greenwave while Jacob Weber and Tommy McCormick each had five. Sean McCormick also intercepted the last play of the game.
After grabbing the first lead of the game, Fallon’s defense held Hug throughout the first half until the Hawks benefited from a tipped pass and nullified interception deep in Fallon’s territory. With McCormick defending, Marcus Reyla-Perry’s pass went off Hug Brendan Garner’s fingers and landed in Elundra Thomas’ hands. On the next play, Sean McCormick intercepted the pass but it was called back leading to Reyla-Perry finding Meikanogataa Moala for the Hawks’ first touchdown of the year. Hug led 8-7 with 11:11 left in the second quarter.
Reyla-Perry found Garner down the right sideline for a 76-yard touchdown pass to give Hug a 14-7 lead with 49.6 left before Richardson’s kickoff return swung momentum back into Fallon’s favor.
“Minus a little bit of stuff in the first half, we played pretty good defense,” Hill said. “We have to do better in the passing game. We had some blown coverages. The touchdown was miscommunication. That’s what you’re going to get with a young team.”
Reyla-Perry, a sophomore, completed almost 50 percent of his passes, finishing 13 of 28 for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, one each to the McCormick brothers.
Jordan Davis led the team in rushing with 19 carries for 41 yards and Caleb Tau-Tolliver rushed four times for 30 yards. Garner and Moala were the Hawks’ top receivers with Garner finished with 95 yards on four receptions and a touchdown and Moala hauling in five passes for 65 yards and a score.