Fallon defense steps up to shut down Truckee
TRUCKEE — Behind the return of its star player and a defense that forced six turnovers, the Greenwave football team battled from behind on the road to hold off Truckee, 32-29, Saturday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
“We were able to get those turnovers and that was the difference in the football game,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “It wasn’t our best effort, but part of that is because we played a good football team. Truckee, we have a tremendous amount of respect for them — always have.”
After watching the Wolverines gash the secondary in the first half, Hill switched to a base approach. The Fallon defense tormented Truckee in the second half, ending six of the Wolverine’s final eight drives with a lost fumble or interception.
Senior Ethan Andrews finished with two interceptions, including the game-ending pick on the final play and a shoe-string catch earlier.
“It was really a back-and-forth game. We came out on top and showed our true colors,” Andrews said. “It was pretty rough at first and then we got it together. We still kept our heads in and finished until the end. We started playing our coverages and did our jobs. We shut them down.”
Despite several drives ending in turnovers, the Wolverines (3-1, 2-1 Northern League) had a chance to knock off the Greenwave (3-0, 3-0 Northern League) on the final drive of the game.
After senior quarterback Marcus Bellon scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run to bring Truckee to within three points, the Wolverines defense forced a punt behind a big hit by senior Brennen Conklin on third down. Bellon would take a sack, and then had his final pass intercepted as time expired.
“We just gave away the ball,” Truckee coach Josh Ivens said. “That’s what’s frustrating. We had a chance to get ahead of this team. We had a chance to beat them, and when you come up short, it’s tough to swallow.”
Fallon senior Sean McCormick, playing in his first game of the season after nursing a leg injury from the summer, scored the team’s first touchdown of the game and would later add another in the second half followed by a two-point conversion on a separate drive.
“Getting Sean McCormick back, who’s been out for us, was big,” said Hill on the senior’s first game of the season. “He had a huge game for us, especially on the offensive side.”
The Wolverines, who were outsized upfront, rebounded from an early Greenwave touchdown behind senior running back Marcus Trotter’s 15-yard touchdown run up the middle. Trotter would then highlight the next possession with a sack from his defensive end position to help force a punt.
The Wolverines added to their lead on the next drive behind a 51-yard carry by senior Kevin Malo, followed by a touchdown pass from Dakota Allen-Gill to Bellon on a trick play.
Truckee then forced a punt, but fumbled away the ball inside the Greenwave 10-yard line. Bellon would then intercept a pass on defense, but subsequently threw a pick of his own to give Fallon the ball back. The Greenwave cashed in on the turnover with senior Trey Rooks hauling in a touchdown pass, followed by a successful two-point conversion to tie the game at halftime.
Truckee opened the second half by driving 73 yards for a touchdown to regain the lead. Trotter finished off the drive with a third-and-goal carry from the 15-yard-line, breaking a tackle on his way to the end zone. Senior kicker Emmanuel Valenzuela-Jones added the extra point to give Truckee a 21-14 lead.
Truckee’s defense would go on to force a punt behind a big hit by senior Drew Wingard on a third-and-long play. The Greenwave got the ball back on an interception, but were stymied by the Wolverines defense on a fourth-and-goal play from the 4-yard line. Truckee, unfortunately, gave the ball right back, mishandling a handoff in the end zone for a safety.
Fallon took the lead on the following possession on a terrific 22-yard touchdown catch by junior Brock Richardson. McCormick made it 24-21, running in the two-point conversion on a read option.
“You’ve got to give (Fallon) credit. They played hard. You can’t let a team like that off the hook,” Ivens said. “I’m proud of the way the guys played today. Ultimately, we gave (Fallon) the opportunity to do what they did, but I was proud of our effort.”
The Wolverines turnover woes continued on the next drive with Bellon losing the ball as he went to the ground on a quarterback keeper. The officials ruled the play a fumble at the Truckee 26-yard line, which later resulted in the Greenwave’s McCormick finding the end zone on a 12-yard run. McCormick then rushed in the two-point conversion to make the score 32-21.
“It feels great. Watching those two games, it was hard to watch the team get all the fun and score all those points. I’m glad to be back,” McCormick said. “We’re always going to face adversity. A tough opponent like Truckee, it’s going to be more than others. If everyone keeps their head straight and does their own job, then we’ll be fine against any team we play.”
Bellon responded for Truckee by scrambling for a touchdown, followed by the Wolverines defense giving the team a chance in the final moments with a big stop, only to have the Greenwave end the game on an interception.
“It was good high school football game,” said Hill. “That’s what we expected when we came here, and that’s what we got.”
Fallon will next face North Valleys (1-2, 1-2 Northern League) at home on Friday for the Hall of Fame game. Thirty inductees to the Greenwave Hall of Fame’s second class will be introduced prior to the game at 7 p.m.
Thomas Ranson contributed to this story.