The Greenwave took one step closer toward the state championship football game Friday despite a first-quarter scare from longtime rival Fernley.
Fallon, which came into Friday’s game at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex with a pristine 8-0 record, scored quickly against the Vaqueros in a first-round Northern 3A Regional game and wound up with a 54-13 win on a chilly autumn evening.
Although Fallon defeated Fernley, the Vaqueros broke the Greenwave’s shutout streak of 16 quarters that began Sept. 28 with Dayton. Fallon will host Pahrump on Saturday at 1 p.m. after the Trojans defeated Boulder City, 32-30, also on Friday.
Once Fallon shook off the effects of a bye week, the Greenwave offense rolled against Fernley, outgaining the Vaqueros 422 yards to 277.
Fallon coach Brooke Hill said the team will look at film this week and see how the Wave will match up with Pahrump.
“We’re not in state yet, but we’re at home (for the next game),” Hill pointed out.
The Wave won the toss but elected to kick to the Vaqueros. After stopping Fernley in its first series, Fallon took over on the Greenwave 39. Fallon quarterback Elijah Jackson took the snap, hesitated and ran up the middle, shifting to his left behind two key blocks for a 61-yard touchdown run. Sean McCormick’s 2-point conversion gave the Wave an 8-0 lead with 9:39 left in the opening quarter.
The defense established the game’s tone.
“Fernley went to the triple option,” said lineman Ben Dooley. “We practiced all week for that. On the first two plays we could tell. Their first two running plays … we got them for losses.”
Jackson completed 13 of 18 passes for 224 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. He also gained 80 yards on five carries.
Jackson felt a little sluggish at the beginning of the game because of the bye, but once he adjusted, Fernley couldn’t stop the Fallon junior.
“I was getting the feel of the game,” he said.
Jackson said the team was at a “super high level” at the beginning of the game, and the intensity rose after Fallon scored first with a pair of touchdowns.
“We had open field opportunities, and the way our routes are, we went down the middle of the field and sidelines. We had an opportunity to spread out.”
Fallon struck quickly with its second first-quarter touchdown when McCormick intercepted Miles Steele’s pass and took off for a 56-yard run for Fallon’s second touchdown. With McCormick’s conversion, Fallon looked invincible with a 16-0 lead with less than 4 minutes ticked off the first-quarter time.
Fernley, though, shocked Fallon with two quick touchdowns to trail 16-13 going into the second quarter.
On the Vaqueros ensuing series. Fernley’s Aj Kuha found an opening on the right side and scooted 60 yards for a touchdown. Fernley missed the extra-point kick. Kuha led Fernley’s ground game with 67 yards on three carries.
Fallon struggled on its next series of downs, and Tristan Rodarte punted on a fourth and 9 from the Greenwave’s 35. Rodarte pinned Fernley on three punts and averaged 34 yards per kick. On the next series, the Wave’s defense appeared to have stopped Fernley on a long third and 19 from the Vaqueros 20, but Steele (7 of 19 for 151 yards) hooked up with Lonnie Halterman, who outpaced Fallon’s secondary for an 80-yard pass play with less than 3 minutes remaining in the quarter. Jack Knodell booted the extra point to slice Fallon’s lead to 16-13.
“We’re in the playoffs and teams are going to make the plays,” Hill said.
That was the last time Fernley came within striking distance.
“We started off well really well and got the quick lead,” Hill said. “The first touchdown was a bad call on my part. I called a stunt, and they called a perfect play and they were gone.”
Fallon scored 38 unanswered points including a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to pull away from the upset-minded Vaqueros. Defensively, Bryce and Brenden Larsen, Dooley and both McCormick brothers swarmed the Fernley offense.
The Greenwave defense dug in on two Fernley possessions and gave Fallon excellent field position when Brenden Larsen grabbed an interception at the scrimmage line. After an incomplete pass and no yards gained on a run from McCormick, Jackson spotted Brock Richardson streaking down the middle and launched a 52-yard pass to the junior wide receiver.
Richardson proved too much for Fernley to handle. For the night Richardson hauled in eight passes for 127 yards and a pair of scores, and he felt energized with his performance.
“I was pretty happy with my receiver skills tonight,” he said. “Last few weeks we’ve been playing teams not at our level.”
Richardson, though, said the passes came his way against the Fernley secondary, which challenged him all night.
“This week I came back,” he said.
Hill said the Wave made the big plays.
“Brock, he’s a playmaker. Tommy (McCormick) made the big plays and Elijah had the long touchdown run. Sean (McCormick ) did his thing,” Hill said.
McCormick’s conversion gave Fallon an 11-point lead, 24-13 with 4:32 left before halftime.
Two minutes later on another Fernley possession, the Fallon defense tipped a pass that was brought down by Bryce Larsen at the Fernley 44. Fallon scored when Sean McCormick ran to his right and threw a successful 23-yard halfback pass to his brother Tommy with 18 seconds showing on the scoreboard. Tommy McCormick had a breakout night with five receptions for 108 yards and three TDs.
The run after the touchdown came up short but the Wave led, 30-13, at intermission.
Fallon stuck twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth while keep Fernley’s offense out of the end zone.
Jackson fired a 40-yard pass to Tommy McCormick, and pumped once before finding Richardson in the end zone with a Fernley defender draped on him. The 2-point conversion increased the Greenwave’s lead to 46-13.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Tommy McCormick grabbed a Jackson pass for 24 yards, and Sean McCormick’s after-touchdown run put the game out of reach, 54-13.
Sean McCormick led Fallon in rushing with 94 yards on 13 carries. He also played quarterback in the fourth quarter and completed 2 of 5 passes for 24 yards.