A homecoming victory | NevadaAppeal.com

A homecoming victory

Mike Sciandra
msciandra@lahontanvalleynews.com
Connor Richardson looks downfield before passing against Elko Friday night.
JOHN DIRICKSON PHOTO |

The Greenwave varsity football team ended homecoming week with another notch on their belt in the home win against Elko, 23-3. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Wave putting them at 5-1 overall and 5-0 in the league, while the Indians are at 3-2, both overall and in league play.

Fallon head coach Brooke Hill said he was happy to win against a frequent rival of the team but not surprised considering it was homecoming week.

The Wave’s next game is a home game against Sparks on Friday at 7 p.m.

“It’s just that we win our homecomings,” Hill said. “That’s what we’ve been doing around here for a while. So we’re not surprised at all. We prepare to win, and our kids expect to win.”

Just last week Hill was preparing for the Indians to be the biggest challenge of the season for the Wave, one that the boys more than rose to from the night’s beginning. The Indians were the first team on the board in the first quarter after a predictably slow battle with the Wave for possession. The opening kickoff ended with an impressive tackle by Indians senior Cade moss, and the Indians’ defense was nothing to sneer at for the rest of the first. The Wave defense proved they can fight in their own territory when they managed to stave off the Indians from a first down at the 6 minute mark that might’ve easily been their first touchdown. Instead, the Indians kicked for a field goal with 5:16 left and put the score at 3-0. It took Wave junior Cade Vercellotti a little time to be able to read the Elko defense on his runs, frequently running into a cluster which led to Elko holding significant possession in the last few minutes. The Indians were shut down consecutively by senior Johnny Mayo and captain Evan Bitter, both of whom made several consecutive tackles without letting Elko past the 20 for the rest of the first. After the Wave regained possession from the Indians’ punt, The The Indians’ Jeff Carpenter tackled Wave senior Cameron Beyer, and the Wave was unable to break past the 20. The first quarter ended at 3-0 while coach Hill tried to light a fire under the Wave runners from the sidelines.

The second quarter opened up more optimistically for the Wave with the Wave passing game making up for a slower running game. Mayo put the Wave on the board scoring a touchdown at 8:44, bringing the score to 7-3 after a successful kick.

Elko only pushed so far as the 30-yard line on their next possession until they punted off to Fallon with an impressive series of first downs by senior Brock Uptain to the 42 with 3:46 left. Senior quarterback Connor Richardson had a solid passing game for the first half, and an impressive running game as well when he was able to narrowly avoid a sack and run for the first down to the 10-yard line. That allowed Mayo to crack the defensive line to get the Wave inside the 5 until Vercellotti, finding his rhythm, took over and scored the next touchdown for Fallon, bringing the score to 14-3 with a minute left in the half.

Wave Quarterback Connor Richardson had an impressive passing game that didn’t take away from his ability to run the ball and avoid a sack.

“He has been, and he is,” Hill said when asked if Richardson was starting to look more like a varsity QB. “I mean, he’s only got six starts uynder his belt but he’s a heck of a player. He makes plays with both his legs and his arms and as he gets better, we get better. He’s got an internal clock, knows when to get out of there and when to escape. Obviously he can make plays with his legs outside the pocket.”

The second half held a much stronger running game for the Wave, but the Indians’ defensive line was hardly letting up. Despite Vercellotti and Uptain breaking through to the 3-yard line after a run to the 20 by Mayo, Elko held the line long enough to regain possession after the next in the Wave’s several failures to follow through at the goal post.

“Well, in the red zone, we got down to where we could’ve scored a couple of touchdowns,” Hill said after the match when telling the ways the boys shot themselves in the foot on offense. “Then we’ve got to make sure we get in the endzone and to do that probably changes the outcome of the game a little bit, and it’s probably very close. So we’ve got to learn to finish and to really work on that part of our game, because our games just get tougher as we go.”

The third quarter wouldn’t end without a stand alone play for the Wave. After a Elko senior Nick Smiley was tackled by Fallon senior Kyle Larson at the 7-yard line, Evan Bitter blocked the attempted punt by Elko with an impressive dive at with 1:38 left, bringing Fallon up 16-3 and spelling the proverbial end for the Indians.

“He’s always been one of our best players,” Hill said on Bitter’s impressive disruption. “He started for us when he was a sophomore, and he makes plays. He’s a playmaker, and you saw that tonight.”

Elko recovered a fumble by Nelson at the 45-yard line on their next possession, but the third still ended at 16-3 with no time to run.

The fourth began with a high tempo for the Wave, when Uptain ran 70-yards for a touchdown at 10:05. If anyone would’ve scored for the Indians, it would’ve been junior Kyrin Allen who had consistently impressive runs ever since the second quarter, but seemed to keep running into both Evan and Aaron Bitter, both of whom would knock his catches out of the way, several in the end zone in the earlier quarters but only one at the 30 in the last quarter. The Wave ended the conference game strong, with a complete pass by Richardson to Uptain at the 30-yard line upon regaining possession and an impressive run to the 60-yard line by Richardson. An imcomplete out-of-bounds pass to Beyer nearly spelled a fourth touchdown for the Wave, but Elko shortly regained possession. After one last sack by Bitter, one of many in this game for him, the game ended 23-3.

Hill was impressed by the boys who stepped up this game in addition to the regular stars such as Vercellotti, Uptain and Bitter.

“Guys step up in other ways and it was good to see,” Hill said. “It’s not one guy ever time. If it was other teams can tend to focus on that. So it’s good that we can spread the ball around and have a lot of guys make plays.”