Greenwave football team escapes with 6-point road victory
Elko Daily Free Press
SPRING CREEK — A year after getting blasted by Fallon in the season opener by a score of 48-6, Friday’s season opener was anything but a blowout — Spring Creek came to play.
A back-and-forth, give-and-take affair was settled by a margin of just six points. Spring Creek ultimately came up on the shy end of a 34-28 contest, but the Spartans nearly won the ballgame — a costly mistake taking points off the board, potentially the game-winning ones.
“We were expecting a pretty good football team up there. They’ve got a lot of returning players from last year,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “They’re pretty similar to what they’ve done. They’re pretty athletic and did a good job of execution. We had some opportunities to take the game over and we didn’t do that.”
With 4:08 remaining in the game, Fallon led 34-28 but the kick was missed — leaving the door slightly open.
After picking up a first down on 3rd-and-15 with a helmet-to-helmet hit, Spring Creek went for the long ball — Jeff Guthrie heaving a perfectly-placed bomb down the left sideline.
The rock dropped from the sky and right into the hands of Kyle Owsley, who beat the corner and the safety, darting 62 yards for the potential game winner. The Spartans were called for in illegal formation — placing five players in the backfield — not lining up correctly probably costing themselves the colossal win.
Fallon took over on downs and drained the clock, kicking with 52 seconds remaining. The Spartans tried to move the ball through the air, all four shots down the field falling harmlessly to the turf.
With the first win of the season secured, Fallon now turns to Fernley, which dominated Truckee last week for its first win of the year. The Greenwave defeated the Vaqueros last year on the road before ending their season in the playoffs.
Hill expects a different team coming to the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex on Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“They’re playing well right now. They’ve got a lot of guys on the line. They’re definitely going to be a big challenge,” Hill said.
The Spartans picked up a first down on their opening drive with a run by senior quarterback Guthrie, however, the drive ended with an interception by Fallon senior safety Tommy McCormick on a lobbed ball down the seam.
Junior Q Boyd burst through the center and pounded senior quarterback Elijah Jackson, who coughed up the ball, senior Dace Draper pouncing on the loose ball at the Fallon 25.
On the next series, senior receiver Owsley caught a pass over the middle to 40, and the Spartans moved the chains with a keeper by Guthrie on two occasions — the second coming on 4th-and-1. Senior Matthew Writer broke a nine-yard run up the middle, but the offense stalled as Fallon stiffened — forcing another 4th-and-1 — Spring Creek leaving the “O” on the field.
A play that would have been close at the sticks resulted in a big gain, the Greenwave called for a 15-yard facemask penalty. From the 12, Owsley took an inside give for a sweep and beat the defense around the left edge for the first score of the season. Junior Kyler Lulay tacked on the extra point, giving Spring Creek a 7-0 lead with 11:47 remaining in the second quarter.
The Spartans nearly pulled off a successful onside kick, but senior Morgan Lawry came forward and jumped on the pigskin at the 48. Richardson moved the chains with a short catch and a carry off the right side, but Spring Creek limited gains by McCormick through the air and on the ground.
Draper and senior Nick Ortega forced fourth down with a big stuff at the line of scrimmage, but the Wave went for the home run. Jackson lofted a pass to the post, McCormick made the snag at the 5 and drug a defender across the goal line. Junior Sam Robertson drilled the PAT, tying the game 7-7 with 8:17 on the clock.
“We were able to take advantage of some things in the passing game,” Hill said. “(Jackson) came up big especially in the second half and made some big throws. That’s what you expect from a senior quarterback.”
After an eight-yard carry by senior Reed Westwood on first down, the Spartans were stopped in their tracks — senior linebacker Dominyke Edwards and company making big hits in the middle — forcing a would-be punt.
The kick never came, as the snap sailed high and off the hands of Westwood — who had to fall on the ball at the Spring Creek 11. Richardson carried the ball on second and third downs to the Spring Creek 1, once again getting the call on fourth down.
He broke a hand tackle in the backfield and jammed behind senior Sione Otuafi for a lead-changing tote.
The extra point opened a 14-7 advantage for the Greenwave with 5:03 remaining in the half.
Spring Creek answered.
Fallon was called for pass interference and moved the ball to midfield, Owsley catching a pass on a slant to the Greenwave 35. Westwood carried for five yards, and Guthrie rolled to the right off a bootleg for 16 yards to the Fallon 12 — delivering a crushing blow in the process.
He took the next carry off-tackle right to the 3, but Spring Creek marched back to the 21 with a holding penalty. McCormick nearly picked off a pass at the 4 as he undercut an out route, but Westwood came free over the middle — hanging onto the rock as he was drilled by two defenders — setting up 1st-and-goal at the 1.
Guthrie moved the pile with a QB keeper, punching to paydirt. Lulay’s PAT knotted the score with 1:09 on the clock.
The kick was pooched to the 35, and Fallon nearly made hay with little time remaining in the half. Edwards took a bubble screen for 21 yards to the Spring Creek 44, and the ball was placed at the 32 after a short catch by McCormick and an encroachment call on the defense.
Jackson threw a deep pass for a fade to McCormick to the right corner, McCormick winning the jump ball and appearing to stick a foot down inbounds — officials converging and ruling he landed out of the field of play — the would-be, go-ahead touchdown taken off the board.
After a scamper, Jackson tried to avoid contact and stepped out of bounds short of the line to gain. The Spartans knelt on the ball and went to the locker room, tied 14-all with the defending state champs.
Fallon took its opening drive for points, not without opposition.
The Greenwave picked up multiple first downs through the air with snags by junior Matt Davis, who caught an 18-yard pass from the 49 to the Spring Creek 33. He came up clutch on a roll-out by Jackson to the left side for a 14-yard connection to the Spartans’ 15.
On 4th-and-10, Jackson bought time with his legs and found McCormick in the end zone — catching the ball twice — reeling in the pass, bobbling it, recollecting and finally securing the rock. The kick was good and Fallon grabbed a 21-14 lead with 7:15 remaining in the third quarter.
The Spartans moved the ball with grit.
Guthrie went up the gut for a first down, and Thurston moved the sticks with a catch on the right side.
Westwood crossed the ball over midfield with a tough run, and Guthrie plunged forward for another fresh set of downs. Guthrie took matters into his own hands and legs, driving for a pair of first downs with runs to the 25 and the 13.
While the run started the momentum, a pass finished the deal — Guthrie Diming to Thurston for a touchdown with 8:37 remaining. Lulay’s kick was dead-center, all tied at 21-all.
Turnovers were the story immediately after.
The Greenwave put the ball on the deck at the 42-yard line after the Spartans kicked out of bounds, Ortega giving the Spartans another jolt with a huge recovery. Spring Creek wasted the golden chance.
On the next play, the Spartans fumbled the football — Lawry pouncing on the pigskin on the Spring Creek 42. Jackson connected once more with McCormick for a first down at the 7, and the duo hooked up once again with a TD at the right pylon. The extra point opened a 28-21 lead.
On the ensuing kick, life was bred back into the Spartans’ faithful with an electrifying return.
Owsley fielded the ball near his own 10, took the ball to the left and reversed field back across the grain to his right — not stopping until the ballgame was knotted up following Lulay’s PAT. With 4:50 on the clock, the score 28-28.
From the Spring Creek 40, Jackson tossed an absolute gem down the left sideline to Davis for the final score.