Fallon's David Palanivelu (72) and Keaton Williams sack Spring Creek quarterback Grant Brorby in the Spartans' final series of the game.
Photo by Thomas Ranson.
If you don’t succeed, try, try again, and that’s what Fallon quarterback Avery Strasdin did with minutes ticking off the scoreboard, and the Greenwave trailing.
Thwarted by an illegal blocking penalty with less than 3 minutes remaining in Saturday’s 3A East football game against Spring Creek, Strasdin regrouped the offense after his apparent 80-yard winning touchdown pass was nullified.
With third down and the ball resting on the 6-yard line, Strasdin took the next snap, rolled to his left inside the end zone and unleashed a long pass to a streaking Kenji Armbruster for a 94-yard strike. That touchdown gave the Wave a 20-17 lead over the Spartans as Armbruster ended his varsity career with 158 yards on six receptions against Spring Creek.
“This was a big play, the first time we had to step up,” Armbruster said of reception. “It wasn’t our best game, but it’s the win that matters.”
After Sam Robertson booted the extra point, the defense stopped Spring Creek on its next series and wrapped up a 21-17 win to finish the abbreviated Covid-19 season with a 5-0 record. Spring Creek dropped to 2-3, losing its final two games by a combined five points.
Thomas Ranson / LVN“This time we prepared to expand more of our passing abilities,” Strasdin said, adding he thought Spring Creek played much tougher than the first meeting.
Fallon's Garrett Jarschke pushes Spring Creek's Tristin Thomsen during the Greenwave's 21-17 win on Saturday.
Coach Brooke Hill agreed.
“They were much more physical the first time we played them,” Hill added. “We kind of shocked them the first time we played them. Spring Creek came ready to play.”
Hill’s Greenwave have now compiled a 27-2 record over the past three seasons and won the state 3A title in 2018. Fernley upset Fallon 24-20 in the 2019 state championship.
The final game on Saturday, though, turned out to be more competitive than the first time the two teams played on March 13. Fallon jumped out with 38 first-half points and cruised to a 44-7 win. The second meeting, though, told a different story. Although Fallon outpassed Spring Creek 194 to 91 yards on Saturday, the Wave narrowly outgained the Spartans by only a yard, 207 to 206.
For both teams, Saturday’s game on a perfect spring afternoon for prep football was their postseason.
Strasdin’s late-game bomb deflated the Spartans after the visitors rallied from a 14-0 halftime deficit. Strasdin completed 10 of 17 passes for 194 yards and gained 39 yards.
“Avery and Kenji hooked up on a pretty good one,” Hill said of the 94-yard pass. “He’s (Avery) elusive back there and he extended the play. He uncorked one (long pass) and was able to do it again.”
Spring Creek strung together six running plays and covered 84 yards to score its first touchdown against the Wave. Q Boyd, who rushed 22 times for 147 yards, pounded the turf for 52 yards on three carries, and Austin Harmening, who finished the game with 63 yards, added 24 yards. On a third and 2 from the Fallon 6, Boyd hit the right side for the touchdown, and Kyler Lulay kicked the extra point to cut Fallon’s lead in half.
Thomas Ranson / LVNWith Fallon’s offense sputtering, the Spartans scored their second touchdown with 9:22 left in the final quarter.
Fallon freshman Grondin carries the ball in his first game on the varsity team as he helped the Greenwave stay unbeaten.
After Fallon’s punt died on the Spartans’ 37, Spring Creek mounted its second good drive of the afternoon. Quarterback Grant Brorby completed a 28-yard pass to Boyd, and Harmening churned up 23 yards to the Fallon 23. Two plays later, Brorby completed a 10-yard pass to Austin Painter, and Lulay’s kick tied the game.
Brorby completed 8 of 12 passes for 91 yards.
On the ensuing kickoff, freshman Roland Grondin, who was called up to varsity, returned the ball to the Greenwave 29. On the next play, Strasdin fumbled the handoff, and the Spartans Tristin Thomsen recovered the ball on the 27. Boyd ran the next six plays but was stopped on the 2-yard line by Fallon’s Josiah Rosario.
Spring Creek opted to kick a field goal rather than trying to reach the end zone. Lulay nailed a 19-yard field goal with less than 5 minutes remaining in the 3A game to mark the first time this season that Fallon trailed an opponent.
The key part of the game was the field goal to go ahead,” Hill said. “We held them and felt some momentum (for us).”
The Wave, though, scored first after receiving the opening kickoff. Fallon mixed up the offense with Strasdin threading the ball for 54 yards, and Colby Malkovich and Grondin running the ball. Spring Creek’s defense dug in on a fourth and 13, though, from their 24-yard line, but that didn’t stop Fallon.
Strasdin decided to keep the ball with his receivers covered, and the lanky 6-foot, 5-inch quarterback snaked his way first to his left toward the Spartans’ sideline and then right to score standing up.
Robertson’s kick gave Fallon a 7-0 lead at the 6:54 mark.
Fallon’s defense looked poised during the Spartans’ first series. Beginning on their own 13-yard line, Spring Creek worked its way for 21 yards to the 34 before punting.
Malkovich returned the ball to the Spring Creek 41-yard line, but Spring Creek stopped Fallon’s momentum. On the next series, Spring Creek covered 37 yards on four carries, but Boyd coughed up the ball, and Keith Heckathorne pounced on the pigskin near midfield.
The Wave stayed on the ground, and Grondin scored his first touchdown as a Greenwave on a 20-yard run over the left side. With Robertson’s kick, Fallon led 14-0, but neither team could make their offense work before halftime. Grondin, though, had a successful debut, rushing for 135 yards on 17 carries.
“Colby (Malkovich) and Grondin ran positive yards for us,” Strasdin said.
Francisco Tapia also intercepted. The ball late in the quarter to stop Spring Creek on the Fallon 40-yard line.
“I go back and get deep expecting them to pass,” Tapia said.
During the season, Hill has credited both the offensive and defensive lines for the Greenwave’s success.
“It’s a bond of brotherhood we have here today,” said Dylan Valerio, a 300-pound lineman who plays on both offense and defense.
During the season, Fallon established a running game that netted more than 1,000 yards. Valerio wasn’t surprised.
“For us it doesn’t matter who runs the ball,” he said. “We go out and get them the yards.”
Hill said five games is not a season, but he praised the Greenwave players for going undefeated.
“The kids bought into the program, and they had to adjust,” Hill said.
1 2 3 4 F
Spring Creek 0 0 7 10 17
Churchill County 7 7 0 7 21
F — Strasdin 24 runs. Robertson kick
F — Grondin 20 run. Robertson kick
SC — Boyd 6 run. Lulay kick
SC — Brorby 10 pass. Lulay kick
SC — Lulay 19 field goal
F — Strasdin 94 pass complete to Armbruster. Robertson kick