Elko shocks Greenwave with 3 OT victory
Elko Daily Free Press
ELKO – Inconsistency on both sides of the ball — some in part because of injuries — plagued the Greenwave football team in a thrilling triple-overtime league clash against Elko.
A low-scoring affair for the majority of the game, the teams traded blows after regulation — the contest ending in the third overtime with Elko earning a 30-24 victory over the defending state champion Fallon.
“The offense was very inconsistent Friday night,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “Part of that is due to injuries to key players.”
With sophomore receiver and defensive back Sean McCormick out for possibly the entire season if Fallon makes it to state, the Greenwave lost junior lineman Tyler Word in the first half and then senior running back and linebacker Brock Uptain in the third quarter. Fallon, though, had a chance to win it in regulation after breaking a 6-6 tie in the fourth quarter. A late kick return for a touchdown sent the game into overtime.
“In the overtime, we were worn down,” Hill said. We had our chances but again didn’t make enough plays to win.”
The Greenwave struck first, set up deep in Elko territory after a 36-yard pass from senior quarterback Conner Nelson to junior Tallon Amezquita to the Elko 23.
After moving the ball inside the Elko 10, the Greenwave nearly scored on third down on a leap by senior tailback Cade Vercellotti that wound up inches short.
Fallon lined up for the conversion and Vercellotti stumbled after receiving the handoff, but he managed to regain his balance and fight off tacklers to the right edge for the first and only points of the half.
The extra point was missed, and after trading possessions turnovers and mistakes – Fallon held a 6-0 advantage at the half.
Elko took the opening kick of the third quarter but the drive ended after a fumble, but the Greenwave gave the pigskin right back.
Nelson was intercepted by senior Austin Smith, and the Indians marched down the field from the Fallon 46-yard line with the running of junior Gavin Byington and senior Trevor Basaraba.
To cap the drive, senior Kyrin Allen shook, outran and fought off a number or tacklers on a reverse to tie the game with 6:54 remaining in the third period.
The score was tied 6-6, but Elko’s point after attempt was blocked.
Disaster almost struck for the Indians on the ensuing kickoff.
Vercellotti returned the kick all the way to the Elko 24, but the Greenwave and the Indians exchanged penalties.
On fourth down, the Indians forced a turnover after an incomplete pass to dodge a major bullet.
In the fourth quarter, the Greenwave made a converted quarterback to a former quarterback connection.
Nelson threw a long pass to Christian Nemeth, and Vercellotti finished the drive with a rushing touchdown with less than three minutes remaining and gave Fallon a 12-6 lead.
The Greenwave’s two-point conversion failed.
When times were tough and the Indians needed a big play, their most athletic horse turned in one for the ages.
Allen reeled in the kickoff and went up the middle at a rapid rate of speed. As a Fallon defender attempted to get low for a tackle, the two-time defending state champion high jumper took flight and hurdled the Greenwave defender.
When Allen landed there was nothing but green ahead of him, and nobody on the back end had the speed to reel him in.
The electric kick return tied the ballgame 12-12 with 2:27 remaining in the game, but for the second time in as many scores – the Greenwave broke through the line and blocked the kick once again.
Regulation ended with a 12-12 tie and the game went to overtime – the first one.
Receiving the ball first in overtime, Fallon needed just two plays to score from the 10-yard line, both carries by Nelson and scoring on the second attempt untouched.
In role reversal, Fallon’s PAT was blocked by Elko senior Luis Salazar.
The Greenwave held an 18-12 lead, but the Indians answered on their second play of the extra frame on an 8-yard carry by Gavin Byington to tie the game 18-18.
Elko made a direct snap to kicker Eric Klekas, who had a solid chance to end the game on a carry to the left edge but he slipped and lost his footing at the 2-yard line.
Enter overtime No. 2.
On Elko’s second play, Klekas threw a 13-yard touchdown to Smith – who made a leaping grab in the back corner of the end zone.
In fitting fashion, the Indians’ kick was blocked.
On Fallon’s first play, Vercellotti took a toss to right to paydirt and knotted the score once again.
The Greenwave lined up to go for two, but Nelson was dropped in the backfield by a swarming Elko defense.
In the third overtime, with the score deadlocked 24-24 – the Elko defense made several near interceptions and Fallon lined up for a fourth-down conversion – but Nelson’s final pass was finally picked by senior Angelo Jones in the end zone.
Elko needed any type of score to win the game, and that score was provided on the first play by Byington.
From 10 yards out, Byington found the edge and drug a tackler and ran over another – capping a wild contest and giving Elko a 30-24 victory in triple overtime.
Fallon (3-3) travels to Sparks on Friday to end the road portion of the schedule before returning home for homecoming next week against Spring Creek and Senior Night against Lowry in two weeks. The Greenwave sits in fifth place but can still finish in the top four and host a playoff game. The top six teams advance to the postseason.
“We can still have the opportunity to make a good run at the playoffs but have to get there first,” Hill said.
LVN sports reporter Thomas Ranson contributed to this story.