Elko uses strong second half to beat Dust Devils
Free Press Sports Editor
ELKO – The Elko defense came to play in the second half as the gridiron squad dusted Dayton 28-14.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Indians drew a line in the sand and repeatedly turned the Dust Devils back. Meanwhile, the offense went to Mr. Reliable – Francisco Lievanos.
“I thought our defense responded to the challenge, especially our corners,” Tribe coach Luke Sellers said. “In the first half, our corners didn’t attack like we needed them to. In the second half, they did.”
The two teams traded blows in the first half.
The Indians put together the first scoring drive of the game. Lievanos ripped off 17 yards on a third-down conversation. The senior also carried it the last four plays of the drive, including a 9-yard run to paydirt.
The Dust Devils immediately answered with a quick strike. On their second play from scrimmage, Tyler Firestone went 74 yards to the end zone.
After Elko was forced to punt on its second possession, the Dust Devils started to move the ball down the field once again. Firestone had a couple of big runs on first downs, and Dayton was on the Elko 30 when it fumbled the ball. With the ball loose on the ground, Brandon Ehlert recovered it for the Tribe.
The Indians put together a long drive that wore down the Dayton defense. The Dust Devils made two key miscues on the drive as well when they were flagged twice for offsides -once to allow Elko to convert a third down and another on a fourth.
At the Dayton 6, Elko went to the air as Dalton Ridgway hit David Jackson for a short pass, and Jackson took the ball into the end zone. Kylen Canepa provided a huge block to make the touchdown possible.
Unfortunately for the Indians, Connor Wolf’s extra point was blocked.
Once again, Dayton had the answer, and it was Elko’s chance to commit a handful of crucial penalties, including one on a fourth down.
Firestone finished off the drive with a 5-yard run for the score. The Dust Devils converted the extra point and took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the game belonged to Elko.
“Fernley has a lot of guys that play both ways,” Sellers said. “Our offensive line came off the ball well. We made some adjustments.”
Dayton’s first drive of the second half stalled, and Elko came back to take control of the game.
Ridgway had a key pass to Canepa for 20 yards, and two Dayton personal fouls set up first-and-goal on the Dust Devil 4.
Lievanos covered the final few yards for the score, and he also ran in the two-point conversation for a 21-14 lead.
On Elko’s next drive, Lievanos put the game away with a back-breaking 66-yard touchdown run.
The Dust Devils converted just one first down on their final two possessions, and Elko’s Hernan Garcia recorded the final sack on Dayton’s final fourth down attempt.
Leivanos tallied 232 yards on 28 carries, and Ridgway was 5-for-7 passing for 51 yards and his first touchdown pass of the season.
Elko improves to 4-2 overall and in Northern 3A league play. The team travels to Wooster next week, while Dayton falls to 2-3 in league.