CARSON CITY — “Our kids were focused all year long, and our kids came out from the get-go,” said Fallon coach Brooke Hill after Saturday’s championship victory.
For 48 minutes from opening kickoff to the final horn, the Greenwave played its characteristic game of smash-mouth football at Carson High School to win the 2018 NIAA Class 3A State football championship, 28-7 over Truckee.
When Fallon and Truckee play, it’s throw away the season records, throw away the depth chart. It’s an all-out battle between two of the most storied, respected football programs in the 3A. From the opening kickoff, Truckee’s defense launched an all-out war on the Greenwave and took an early 7-0 lead.
Shaking off its tightness after the Truckee touchdown, 12-0 Fallon rolled like it’s high-school fight song of “Onward Greenwave” and kept rolling for the rest of the game by scoring 28 unanswered points.
Hill wasn’t surprised with the Greenwave’s resolve.
“Back in the springtime, we knew we had something special,” Hill said after the game. “We just had to keep fighting every day — take one step at a time — that’s has always been our thing. I had a feeling we could get this done, and we did that.”
While the Fallon offense tore up the turf after Truckee stunned the Wave with the game’s first score, the Wolverines’ defense then had to find ways to stop the Greenwave’s No. 1 threat, senior running back Sean McCormick. Fallon’s defense also played one of its best games of the season in keeping the Wolverines, which lost to Fallon 32-29 during the regular season, out of the end zone for the rest of the game.
Fallon outgained Truckee 326 yards to 240 and doubled the number of first downs, 18 to 9.
“They’re a good team, hats off to them,” said Truckee head coach Josh Ivens. “I’ve been around awhile, and that’s one of the best teams we’ve faced, maybe the best.”
Hill said McCormick was the key for making Fallon the best team in the 3A.
“He’s just a phenomenal player … one of the greatest players in Greenwave history,” Hill said of McCormick, who carried the ball 31 times for 190 yards. “He’s really a beast on both sides of the football. He’s a winner, always been a winner and will always be a winner.”
Fallon jumped on the Wolverines for two second-quarter touchdowns to lead 14-7 before halftime. McCormick barreled in from the 3-yard line early in the quarter, and his 2-point conversion was good for an 8-7 lead. Quarterback Elijah Jackson (2 of 4 for 83 yards) found McCormick open on the near side for a 33-yard pass for Fallon’s score.
Although Jackson’s early passes missed their targets, he persevered and confidently led the offense as the Greenwave’s field general, picking apart the Wolverines’ defense.
Fallon began its first drive on the Greenwave 34 after Truckee punted. Before the touchdown pass, Jackson hooked up with McCormick for a 27-yard gain, and two plays later, McCormick scored 17 seconds into the quarter.
Yet, it was Truckee’s punting that dug a hole for the Wolverines. After the Wave stopped Truckee, forcing a fourth and 28 from the Truckee 24, McCormick handled the punt and ran it back to the Wolverines’ 42. On the third play of the short series, Jackson hit McCormick with a perfect swing pass, who then ran a tightrope along the Fallon sidelines into the end zone.
Fallon’s defense consistently smacked the Wolverines, flushing Wolverines’ quarterback Marcus Bellon out of the pocket and then Dominyke Edwards sacking him for 13-yard loss on a crucial third-down play.
Bellon, though, was on target in the first quarter when he threw a 28-yard touchdown pass at the 3:54 mark and the point after touchdown was good for a 7-0 lead. The Truckee senior completed 10 of 27 passes for 139 yards and also led Truckee in rushing with 101 yards.
Fallon made adjustments at halftime and took control of the final two quarters.
“We had some adjustments,” McCormick said. “We were stopping them on defense. They had a few good plays, but we shut them down on defense.”
Penalties also came at the wrong time for the Wolverines.
“We were first and forever, many times,” Ivens said. “That killed our momentum offensively. Against a team like that, it’s hard enough to go 10 yards. That’s when things started shifting.”
Fallon added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter.
Brock Richardson sprinted up the middle on a 3-yard run midway through the quarter, and McCormick scored again, this time on a 15-yard run. His two-point run was good to give Fallon a 28-7 lead.
“Offensively, they couldn’t stop us on the run,” McCormick said, “and we stayed with that.”
McCormick, though, credited the offensive line for making his runs possible.
“I couldn’t have done anything without those linemen,” he said. “They were working their butts off, making holes and making it look easy for me.”
Fallon began the third quarter on a focused mission. After stopping Truckee on its first series, the Wolverines booted a 29-yard punt that Fallon took on its 43-yard line. The Wave burned 4 minutes off the clock, running 10 plays capped by Richardson’s run at 6:43.
McCormick carried the ball five times for 34 yards, and Tommy McCormick snagged a swing pass from Jackson for 13 yards. Truckee’ defense, though, stymied the Wave in the red zone, stopping Sean McCormick for 6 yards and Richardson for no gain on a second-and-goal from the 3.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bellon ran the ball 14 yards to the Truckee 24, but on the second play, Sean McCormick intercepted the Truckee quarterback at the 28.
“He was a big threat for us, and we kept a good eye on hit. That’s what we did,” McCormick said of Fallon’s game plan against Bellon, who gained most of his yards in the first half.
A penalty after the interception moved the ball back to the 38, but Truckee repaid the favor by intercepting Jackson on the 16-yard line after a Fallon fourth down. Fallon’s defense smothered the Wolverines, chasing Bellon out of the pocket and also dropping Sean Kelly for a 1-yard loss. A Truckee punt of 15 yards took a bad hop backwards, and the Fallon defense downed the ball on the 39.
On the other side of the ball, Fallon’s Tristan Rodarte pinned Truckee back on four punts. The defense also bothered the Wolverines for most of the game, led by the Larsens brothers Brenden and Bryce.
“We had key stops on defense, and that stopped their momentum,” Brenden Larsen said. “We minimized our errors.”
Bryce Larsen said the defense was more than ready for its mission.
“We had a lot of energy tonight, a lot of stops,” he added.
McCormick wasn’t finished for the night. He broke three tackles for a 21-yard run, and two plays later, he found a hole for a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
Symbolic in the second quarter, though, was a 3-yard run from Reid Clyburn, who carried the ball for the first time since being injured against Fernley earlier in the season. Clyburn, who will run track in the spring, ran to the Wolverines’ 33-yard line.
Fallon kept the ball out of Truckee’s hands for most of the fourth quarter when the final stake in Truckee’s heart came after Fallon coughed up the ball on its 25 -ard line. Truckee took over and had a big break when Bellon hooked up with Kevin Malo for a 25-yard pass to the 4.
Fallon dug in for a goal-line stand and stopped Truckee in four plays. On their ensuring series, the Wave’s McCormick carried the ball 10 consecutive times to take time off the clock.
The Greenwave defense allowed the Wolverines to move the ball in its final series that began at the Truckee 21. Fallon sealed the win with 26 seconds left in the game after Edwards intercepted Bellon’s pass on the 13.
Richardson, who rushed for 40 yards, was emotional after the game. Just three years before, his brother, Connor who now plays for the College of Idaho, led Fallon to its first state title in 40 years. Younger brother Brock can now savor the rewards of the latest championship.
“We played really well, had a few snafus, but we controlled the game and got it done on defense and offense,” Richardson said, looking toward his teammates. “We came up big on big situations.”