Fallon holds off Fernley
LVN Editor Emeritus
Three long touchdown passes from Fallon quarterback Elijah Jackson to receiver Brock Richardson were the major difference in Fallon’s 42-35 Northern 3A win Friday night at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
But it was a key 49-yard pass to Tommy McCormick with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game and three long runs from Richardson in the red zone that gave the Greenwave two crucial first downs to keep the Vaqueros on offense as the clock ran out. Fallon (2-1 overall, 2-0 league) won its second Northern 3A game to remain on top of the standings, while Fernley dropped to 1-1 in league.
Fallon entertains Truckee on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Wave defeated Truckee in last year’s state 3A championship played at Carson High School.
“They’re a good football team, and they made some big plays on us,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill pointed out. “But we also gave them some opportunities, and we can’t turn the ball over like that.”
Hill wasn’t pleased with three fumbles that gave Fernley a short field to score a pair of touchdowns in the second half.
“We have to make better adjustments on the fly,” Hill said.
Hill said the offense can’t turn the ball over, and with Fernley’s ability to punch the ball into the end zone, he knows the Vaqueros will take advantage of those situations.
Fernley’s defense put pressure on Jackson when he looked for the open receiver, but the senior quarterback’s ability to move out of the pocket and look downfield became one of his biggest assets.
After Jackson ran for a 44-yard touchdown 5 minutes into the game. He faked a pitch but then ran the ball down the middle. He also completed a 40-yard pass play to Richardson for a 40-yard strike to give the Wave a 12-0 lead with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
Jackson unloaded a swing pass to Richardson, who then split two Fernley defenders on his way to the end zone.
In the third quarter, Fernley scored on a 1-yard keeper from quarterback Miles Steele, who led the Vaqueros with 165 yards rushing on 28 carries. He also completed two passes for 20 yards and two interceptions, one by Tommy McCormick with 54 seconds remaining in the second half.
For the Wave, Jackson scrambled to avoid being sacked before he hurled a long pass to Richardson who then cut inside and headed to the goal line on a 63-yard pass play.
The senior tandem wasn’t finished until late in the quarter when Jackson rolled right and found Richardson on the right side for a 70-yard score.
The Jackson to Richardson connection didn’t miss a step from last season, especially when Jackson reared back and heaved the ball downfield.
“I worked really hard on man coverage,” Richardson said, explaining how he became open for the three TD receptions against Fernley’s secondary. “Elijah, as great a quarterback as he his, always puts the ball right there.”
Jackson continually kept his focus on Richardson during any pass play that went long.
“If I saw Brock get downfield, I knew I could hit him,” Jackson added.
Jackson, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 262 yards and no interceptions, hooked up with his favorite receiver for seven passes that covered 197 yards. Richardson also gained 80 yards on 10 carries.
Fernley, though, outgained Fallon 300 yards to 218, but the Wave held a huge advantage through the air.
Since the Wave blistered the Fernley secondary with the long bombs, Fallon relied on short gains from the running game. Levi Andrews had nine carries for 80 years, and Jackson, who wanted to keep the Fernley defense guessing, picked up 61 yards on seven carries.
Fernley’s ground game pounded the Fallon defense in the fourth quarter. Anthony Thompson slipped several tackles for a 40-yard touchdown run with 11:05 left in the game. Less than 5 minutes later, running back Brandon Reyes carried the ball in from the 4-yard line. Both extra-point kicks from Jack Knodell sailed through the uprights.
“The option is hard to defend, especially if we see it one time a year,” Hill said. “I’m more disappointed in the pitch. When we played it right, we stopped it.”
The Wave scored three times for 15 points in the last half of the second quarter on Sam Robertson’s 29-yard field goal, Andrews’ 3-yard run and McCormick’s interception that gave Fallon a 42-21 lead at halftime.
Late in the first quarter and into the first minute of the second, Fernley put together a drive capped by Steele’s 1-yard keeper at the 11:01 mark for Fernley’s first touchdown.
Fallon’s defense had a solid outing from Thomas Steele and Dominyke Edwards, who each had some pad-thumping hits on both Thompson and Miles Steele.
“We executed the game plan that we learned in practice,” Thomas Steele said. “It feels good to get the win.”