Fallon avoids upset, holds on to beat Lowry
The Humboldt Sun
WINNEMUCCA — With its playoff chances in the rear-view mirror, the Lowry High School football team was playing for pride and momentum into the 2018 season.
The Buckaroos have played in a number of close games in the second half of the season, but have come up short on the result side. Lowry had a chance to damper the playoff seeding of Fallon on Thursday night in Winnemucca and nearly pulled off the upset in its season finale.
Lowry finished the year 1-8 in the Northern 3A and 1-9 overall. Fallon finished 7-2 in the Northern 3A and will be the No. 3 seed in the regional playoffs. Fallon hosts Sparks Friday at 7 p.m.
Lowry jumped out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, only to see Fallon rally in the second half for a 35-26 victory.
“They had some success early and were better as the game went on,” said Fallon coach Brooke Hill, who compared Lowry’s running game with Sparks. “Sparks like to run that football, too. They’re a team that has a lot more momentum going into the playoffs.”
The Buckaroos ate up more than five minutes on the clock on the opening possession of the night and grabbed a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard run by Victor Rosas. Rosas did lots of the damage on the 59-yard drive, with a handful of runs.
It did not take Fallon long to answer back, needing to drive just 15 yards to tie the game at 7-7 after a long kickoff return by Clayton Steelmon. On fourth down, Sean McCormick connected with Steelmon on a 12-yard pass play to square the game.
McCormick led the team in rushing with 90 yards and was 15-26 and 105 yards passing.
Lowry countered back 19 seconds later, as Rosas broke free on the next play from scrimmage for a 58-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Buckaroo lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
After the quick start by the offenses, the game settle down the rest of the half. Lowry drove deep into Fallon territory twice in the second quarter, but could not add any points with drives ending on downs.
Fallon punted twice and fumbled once on its other possessions in the first half, before scoring with 43 seconds to play in the second quarter. McCormick hit Christian Nemeth for a 12-yard pass play that closed the gap to 14-13 at halftime.
“We knew they were good and improved and had some kids,” Hill said. “They came out and got going pretty quick. It was a pretty close first half.”
Fallon took its first lead of the contest on the opening possession of the second half. Aided by a 17-yard pass on fourth down from Sean McCormick to Tommy McCormick that kept the drive alive. Just a few plays later, Sean McCormick scored on a 3-yard run on fourth down to put the Greenwave ahead 21-14 after the 2-point conversion.
Fallon intercepted Lowry’s Brandon Domire on the Buckaroos’ next drive and ran the ball back to the Lowry 1-yard line. However, the run back was called back due to a block in the back penalty. The Greenwave were unable to capitalize on the miscue and were forced to punt.
On that punt, Buckaroo senior Matthew Souza found a crease in the Fallon coverage and scampered for a 58-yard touchdown. Lowry missed the extra point and trailed 21-20 with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
Lowry forced Fallon to punt on its next possession as well, but the tables turned in the Greenwave’s favor moments later. Sean McCormick intercepted Domire and ran into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown and a 27-21 advantage with :18 to play in the third quarter.
Just a play after losing Rosas to a knee injury early in the fourth quarter, Domire kept the ball and found the corner of the end zone on a 12-yard run to close the gap to 27-26. The Buckaroos missed the extra point with 8:50 left to play.
The Buckaroos quickly punted on its next drive, leaving five minutes on the clock. Fallon kept its drive going, aided by a Lowry offside penalty and continued to run the clock out.
With just one timeout left, Lowry allowed Sean McCormick to score on a 17-yard run to get the ball back, but needed to stop the ensuing conversion. Fallon went for the 2-point conversion and converted the play to make the score 35-26 with 1:20 to play, ending the upset bid.
“We were missing some weapons in that game.” Hill said of his team.
Running back Reid Clyburn has been nursing an ankle injury since early October, and Brock Richardson, who doubles as a running back and receiver, missed the game with a groin injury.
Hill said linebacker Trenten Thorn left the game in the second quarter and will be evaluated this week.
“I also hope we’ll get the backfield back for Friday,” Hill said.
Hill, though, praised Nemeth for his touchdown catches, especially the one before the end of the first half that sliced Lowry’s lead. Nemeth had six catches for 30 yards.
Lowry felt it had one last chance in the final quarter.
“That was our only chance to get the ball back and try to tie the game,” said Lowry head coach Taua Cabatbat. “They were just going to run the clock out. We needed to stop the 2-point conversion, but they were able to get it.”