ELKO — After spotting Fallon a 12-0 lead, the Elko football team came back to outscore Fallon by four touchdowns for the remainder of the game in a 32-19 win Saturday afternoon. Fallon, which sits at 1-1 in the 3A East, travels to Fernley (1-0) on Friday for a key battle against its cross-valley rival. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. A win keeps Fallon’s hopes alive in grabbing the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which begin in two weeks. But Elko (2-0), the top team in the league, would need to lose against winless Dayton this week and next week in the county rivalry game against Spring Creek. A Fernley win on Friday, though, could complicate the playoff situation since the Vaqueroes’ game against Elko was not played due to Covid protocols. Barring an Elko collapse and if Fallon wins out, the Greenwave would finish as the No. 2 team in the league and host the 3A West’s No. 3 team in the first round of the playoffs later this month. North Valleys (3-0) leads the 3A West with Truckee and Sparks both at 2-1. Truckee defeated Sparks last week. The winner of the first round of the playoffs faces the No. 1 seed, which receives a bye. If North Valleys holds on to win the league, the Panthers would host No.2 Fallon if it wins its playoff opener. The playoff format, though, is subject to change due to several cancellations. In Saturday’s battle for first in the 3A East, turnovers plagued both teams as Fallon fumbled three times, including twice at quarterback. The offensive line also allowed seven sacks. Elko, though, threw two interceptions to Reese Kincaid and Jeremiah Prinz. Keaton Williams led Fallon in passing, completing 15-of-25 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Roland Grondin led the team in rushing with 75 yards on 10 carries for one touchdown, and Williams added 49 yards on 12 carries. Ethan Tarner and Isiah Diaz were on the receiving end of Fallon’s aerial attack. Tarner’s only catch of the game was a 15-yard score while Diaz had three receptions for 78 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown. Kincaid hauled in four receptions for 50 yards, Steven Moon had four catches for 26 yards and Tyler Austin finished with 25 yards on three receptions. Fallon’s pass defense was strong, forcing quarterback Justus Nielsen to complete only 33 percent of his passes for 51 yards and one touchdown. The run defense, though, yielded 253 yards, including a 175-yard, 26-carry effort from Eli Finlayson, who scored four touchdowns.
Anthony Mori / Elko Daily Free Press Fallon's Francisco Tapia lays a big hit on Elko quarterback Justus Nielsen.
Fallon got on the board first with a pair of touchdowns in the opening quarter. After Elko punted on its first possession, Grondin set the tone on the ground in the first quarter. Grondin had runs of 30 and 7 yards to set up his 4-yard score with 6 minutes, 33 seconds to give Fallon a 6-0 lead after a failed PAT. Fallon started the next drive at midfield after an Elko punt. Williams found Diaz open for a 26-yard touchdown reception with 2:43 left in the quarter. Fallon’s two-point conversion attempt was stopped. Fallon started the next drive on its own 34 after forcing Elko to turn over fourth down. Fallon had to punt, but the kick was shanked to give Elko the ball on its own 46. Prinz, though, intercepted the pass in the red zone. Elko got the ball back and a completion in triple coverage set up the Indians at the Fallon 3 where Finlayson scored from 1 yard out with 3:05 left in the half. Francisco Tapia blocked the PAT kick. On Fallon’s next drive, Braedon Swaffield dragged down Williams as he threw the ball, which went backward for a lateral pass, and Elko recovered with 44 seconds left in the half. Elko completed a Hail Mary on fourth-and-10 for a 26-yard touchdown with seven seconds in the half. A successful two-point conversion gave Elko a 14-12 lead going into the locker rooms. After both teams traded possessions, Grondin fumbled on a big run with Cael Sellers recovering. The Indians, though, couldn’t take advantage after Kincaid picked off the pass in the end zone. On the ensuing possession, Austin caught a deep pass but was called for illegal possession and Fallon was forced to punt, which was shanked. Finlayson then scored a 26-yard touchdown with 1:18 in the third quarter. Jace Nelson blocked the PAT as Elko led 20-12. Fallon punted on the next series but it was blocked by Sellers, setting up Elko on its own 40. After a bad snap, Sellers picked up the dropped ball on third-and-two before Finlay picked up several first downs. Nielson’s keeper put Elko 2 yards away with 5:33 left when Finlayson scored to give Elko a 26-12 lead. A personal foul and offsides gave Fallon good position, and Moon’s catch put Fallon into Elko territory. Diaz’s fourth-down conversion run to the Elko 36 gave Fallon a first down. An Elko pass interference call moved the ball to the 21, setting up Williams’ bootleg to the 4. After a holding penalty, Tarner caught a 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:49 left in the game. Moon’s PAT kick brought the game to 26-19. After a failed onside kick, Finlayson put the game away on the first play of the series with a 61-yard touchdown run. Nelson blocked the PAT. Finlayson strip-sacked Williams on Fallon’s final drive. Elko Daily’s Anthony Mori contributed to this story.