Fallon quarterback Connor Richardson shook off several first-half mistakes and settled down to have a good offensive game against Truckee on Friday night.
Richardson, a 6-foot-3 inch senior, recovered from throwing two interceptions in the first half to throw for 175 yard and one touchdown, and he also rushed for a touchdown in Fallon’s 28-14 win against Truckee.
“That wasn’t my best because I made some bad decisions,” said Richardson after the game.
Yet, as the game progressed, Richardson found his receivers with a combination of deep and short passes to the sidelines.
“Coach had the right calls, so I just executed the plays,” he added. “We established the runs and opened up the passing game.”
Richardson opened up his passing game, connecting on 16 of 22 passes for 174 yards.
On the ground, both Brock Uptain and Cade Vercellotti each rushed for 90 yards.
The balanced Greenwave offense and a gritty second-half defense that shut down visiting Truckee allowed Fallon to break a halftime tie en route to a Northern 1A conference football win at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
Fallon improves to 1-1 in its league opener while Truckee falls to 0-2, 0-1 in league play.
“We did a pretty good job of passing the ball with the run,” said Fallon coach Brooke Hill after the game. “They (Truckee) are a much better team, and we had to make sure we took care of business and had good balance.”
Truckee received a break to begin the third quarter when the Greenwave’s kickoff team was flagged for a false start after successfully recovering an onside kick near midfield. Instead, Fallon re-kicked the ball deep to Jordan Jepsen, who ran it back to the Truckee 18.
The Fallon defense stopped the Wolverines in four plays before fielding a Truckee punt at the Greenwave 38. In less than three minutes, Fallon mounted an eight-play drive capped by a 10-yard on the right side by junior running back Brock Uptain with 7:56 left in the quarter. Uptain finished the night with 90 yards on 18 carries. Fallon quarterback Connor Richardson mixed up the plays in the drive by completing four passes for 49 yards.
Hill praised his defense and Kyle Larsen for his defense and felt the secondary stepped up to shut down Truckee’s passing game.
Fallon’s final touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Johnny Mayo intercepted a pass at the 50 and ran it back to the Truckee 44.
The Wave relied on its rushing game with Cade Vercellotti carrying the ball four straight times to the 30-yard line.
A key 16-yard pass from Richardson to Evan Bitter kept the drive going to the 11. On a first and 10, Richardson faked a pass and then ran up the middle for his second touchdown of the night. He also passed to Vercellotti for the two-point conversion that gave Fallon a 14-point lead.
“I felt like they would adjust,” said Truckee coach Lance Ivens. “They’re a good team.”
Ivens, though, said the untimely penalties and forced passing situations did not bode well for the Wolverines.
Both teams played a little “smash mouth” football in the first half with their hard hitting and ball control.
Penalties along with timely tackling characterized both teams’ play for most of the opening quarter.
After Truckee’s kickoff sailed into the end zone, Fallon took possession at its 20. Uptain carried the ball five times in the first seven plays for 32 yards, but penalties slowed the Greenwave offense. Truckee’s defense held and forced Fallon to punt from the 40.
Truckee struggled to find momentum during its first series. Quarterback Tyler Davis’s first two passes fell incomplete, and the Truckee running game couldn’t penetrate the middle of the Fallon defensive line. After the Wolverines punted deep in their own territory, Fallon began its second drive on the Truckee 37 and four plays later, Vercellotti ran right for a 16-yard score. Fallon kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Barely two minutes into the second half, Truckee tied the game after grinding the ball out behind Jepsen and fullback Wulfe Retzlaff, who rushed for 20 yards including a 3-yard touchdown with 9:56 left before halftime.
Jose Araiza’s extra-point kick sailed through the uprights.
Fallon struggled on the ensuing series after Truckee’s kickoff went into the end zone. Richardson, on a third and 9, dropped back and passed, but Retzlaff, who had two interceptions in the game, picked off the ball at the 27 and ran it back 17 yards. On a third and goal from the 1, Davis pulled off a quarterback sneak to give Truckee its first lead of the game. The PAT doubled the score, 14-7 with 7:05 left in the half.
“We had a few mistakes and a few balls that should haven’t been picked,” Hill said.
Ivens complimented Retzlaff, saying his fullback played well on both sides of the ball.
“He’s one of our captains, and the kids respond to him,” Ivens said.
After the Wave stalled on eight plays after the Truckee kickoff, the Wolverines took over on their 32. On a fourth and 12, Evan Bitter broke through the line and blocked a punt, recovering the ball on the 1-yard line. On the next play Uptain barreled over the center for the score. A Richardson to Riley Williams pass knotted the score at 14.
“We lost our momentum with the blocked punt,” Ivens said. “It killed our mojo a little bit, and then we had a shot with a field goal.”
The Wolverines had one more opportunity to break the tie with 8 seconds left, but a 46-yard field goal fell short underneath the crossbar.