Fallon defeated Spring Creek Friday night with an exclamation point.
Make that a series of exclamation points as the offense unleased a balanced game plan and steamrolled over visiting Spring Creek, 48-6, in Northern 3A football at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
After losing three straight games to the Spartans during the regular season and playoffs over a two-year span, the Greenwave returned the favor in the season opener for both teams to send Spring Creek on a quiet, long bus ride back to Elko County.
“We’ve had tough games with them the last couple of years,” said Fallon coach Brooke Hill. “We were pretty balanced, and had a strong offensive front.”
Hill praised quarterback Elijah Jackson who directed the offense by completing 11-of-18 passes for 227 yards. Although Jackson suffered a season-ending injury midway through last season, Hill said his junior came out oozing with confidence as did Reid Clyburn, who also saw limited action late last season due to injuries. Combined with the steady Brock Richardson, who scored four touchdowns, Fallon showed backfield speed that hasn’t been seen in years.
“This is one of the fastest teams I’ve had,” said Hill, who took over as head coach in 2009.
The team may have been quicker — much to the Spartans’ chagrin — but last year’s player of the year Sean McCormick broke his ankle in July. He suited up Friday but did not play. Hill said he hopes to have his senior wide receiver and free safety back for Friday’s game at Fernley. McCormick took over as quarterback last year when Jackson suffered his injury.
Fallon struck quickly and often in the first half before Hill substituted freely in the final two quarters. Clyburn’s 27-yard run at 8:41 in the first quarter capped a three-play series and set the stage for Fallon’s offensive explosion. Jackson’s 10-yard keeper with 5:15 left in the first quarter gave the Wave a two-touchdown lead. David Palanivelu and Tristan Rodarte alternated in kicking the extra points except for one.
Clyburn also had a 15-yard run for Fallon’s third score within the first minute of the second quarter. As with Jackson, Clyburn, who carried the ball nine times for 112 yards, was happy to showcase his speed after struggling with injuries last year.
“I felt really good and felt I came back strong,” said the Fallon senior, who is also one of the top track stars in the 3A. “I came out wanting to win.”
Clyburn echoed Hill’s assessment of the backfield’s quickness and said Spring Creek probably didn’t know what hit them.
“I don’t think anything Spring Creek did would’ve stopped us,” he said. “I don’t feel Spring Creek knew we were that quick.”
If Spring Creek’s defense was lulled by Jackson and Clyburn, Richardson definitely brought the Spartans back to reality on a nice summer night with a full moon beaming down on the field.
Richardson and Jackson hooked up for two pass plays resulting in a pair of touchdowns, and the Fallon junior also scored on two runs.
Richardson’s 15-yard run up the middle gave Fallon a 27-0 lead before the extra point. Jackson put Fallon in a good position after he faked a run up the middle and then took off for a 15-yard gain, and he also had a nice, arcing pass near the Fallon sideline to Trey Rooks for 35 yards.
On Fallon’s next series after Spring Creek struggled and punted, Jackson threw an incomplete pass and on the second play, Fallon was called for a personal foul. Then the Wave struck quickly …with another exclamation point.
Jackson saw Richardson alone and threw left, and then Richardson tucked the ball close to his side and outran the Spartans’ secondary for a 95-yard score with 5:36 remaining in the second quarter. The junior tandem also hooked up for the Greenwave’s final touchdown in the third quarter when Jackson found Richardson in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-yard strike. With the PAT, Fallon led 48-0, thus resulting in a running clock for the rest of the game. The second half also gave Hill an opportunity to use Rodarte at running back.
Richardson’s third touchdown, which came late in the first half, was a 36-yard run. Ethan Andrews intercepted a Jefferson Guthrie pass and ran back to the Spartans’ 34. Three plays later, Richardson crossed the goal line. Richardson pulled in four passes for 139 yards.
Spring Creek scored midway in the fourth quarter on Guthrie’s 6-yard keeper. The Spartans had good field position after Guthrie found Kyle Owsley for a 74-yard pass. Although the Fallon defense was hoping for a shutout against its Northern 3A nemesis, Brenden Larsen wasn’t disappointed.
“Our secondary was very good, and we had a lot of checks,” he said. “Our linebackers did a very good job against the run.”
Fallon’s defense rose to the occasion, limiting Spring Creek to 150 total yards compared to Fallon’s 468. Guthrie was 6 of 16 in passing for 115 yards.
Larsen said Fallon’s first touchdown fired up the defense, resulting in the Spartans facing a punishing defensive line. Although Fallon gave up a late-game touchdown, Larsen wasn’t disappointed because the second- and third-string players saw action.
“That put the first string on the sidelines cheering on our teammates,” he said.