The 2-minute drill
For most of their Northern 3A football game, both spring Creek and Fallon traded scores in a typical “smash mouth” warfare at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex.
But the outcome of the game came down to the final 7 seconds when Spring Creek scored the go-ahead touchdown to eke out a 42-36 victory to remain in first place with an 8-0 record, while the defending state champs dropped to 4-4.
Fallon took the lead with 2:23 remaining in the game on Cade Vercellotti’s 1-yard run. The Wave failed to convert the conversion but led 36-34.
On the ensuing kickoff, Spring Creek started deep in its own territory at the 12, but the tandem of Spartans’ quarterback Jon Jund and running back Jason Painter went to work. Spring Creek slowly and methodically moved down the field on short passes from Jund to Painter and wide receiver Dakota Larson.
Even a penalty for an ineligible receiver downfield didn’t hurt Spring Creek.
On a fourth and 5 from the Spartans’ 43 yard line, Jund heaved a long pass downfield, which was tipped by the Fallon secondary into the hands of Jake Oliphant, who leaped high in a free-for-all to make the grab on the Fallon 23.
Five plays later Jund hooked up with Larsen for a 12-yard inside slant pass play that resulted in a touchdown with 3 second left on the clock.
Painter scored the 2-point conversion.
“We played well, and out kids played hard,” said Fallon coach Brooke Hill. “They are a good football team.”
Hill said the Fallon defense struggled against Jund’s passing, but overall, he was pleased with Fallon’s game plan.
“They played well on our turf, and we did too. We didn’t make as many plays. Our kids executed the game, and 34 points is enough to win a ballgame. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Spring Creek coach Joel Jund said both teams played hard to win.
“It was a great game,” said coach Jund. “We do a 2-minute drill every day. We were fortunate with the catch. Oliphant came down with that big catch, and we were able to score.”
Jon Jund said Fallon came out and “knocked the snot out our defense.” Jund said he didn’t think his long pass was going to be caught.
“It was fourth and 5, and I threw it up, and it (the pass) was probably lost, but Oliphant caught it. We drove down the field, I spiked it and had a good pass to Dakota,” Jon Jund said. “We’re a dynamic duo. He’s my top receiver.
Jund, who was 23-36 and 341 yards and accounted for three touchdowns, found Larson with 12 passes for 188 yards. Spring Creek had 532 yards in total offense.
The loss was particularly devastating for the Greenwave on homecoming night. A win would have given Fallon a better league standing for postseason play; instead, the Wave will play on the road in the first round, while Spring Creek has assured itself a home-field advantage.
“Fallon is no means out of it. We had a great road win against a great program,” coach Jund said.
Fallon had Spring Creek on the ropes for the first half and most of the third quarter.
“Fallon is a very good football team. We could see them down the road,” Coach Jund said. “Our kids played well.”
The Wave scored first on an eight-play drive. Conner Nelson’s kickoff return to midfield gave Fallon a good start. Spring Creek couldn’t stop Fallon running back Cade Vercellotti, who rushed for 44 yards. Conley Hyde scored on the 2-point conversion to give Fallon an 8-0 lead.
Fallon, though, had a difficult time trying to slow down Jund. Spring Creek responded in lightning speed and tied the game at 6:38 when Sheldon Wilkinson plunged in from the 3-yard line. Jund’s pass to Larson tied the scored at 8.
Vercellotti’s kickoff return to the Fallon 37 began a nine-play drive highlighted by Brock Uptain’s 36-yard run and Nelson’s quarterback keepers. On the night play, Nelson found Trey Rooks for a 6-yard touchdown pass, and with the 2-point conversion on a pass from Nelson to Uptain, Fallon took a 16-8 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Painter took the kickoff and retuned it to the Spartans’ 34. Jund connected with Painter for a 22-yard pass and Larson for 11 more yards to move into Fallon territory. Three more plays and Spring Creek faced a third and goal from the 4. Jund took the snap and found Wilkinson for a 4-yard strike. Fallon kept a 16-14 lead because of Jund’s incomplete pass on the conversion.
Fallon grabbed a two-touchdown lead against the Spartans on its next drive. Vercellotti’ 30-yard run and Nelson’s passing enabled Fallon to marched down the field in eight plays capped by Vercellotti’s 8-yard touchdown. Spring Creek’s defense, though, stopped Vercellotti short of the goal line for the 2-point conversion.
Both teams traded a touchdown before halftime.
Yet it was Vercellotti’s running that worried Coach Jund.
“”No. 22 (Vercellotti) runs well, and they block well for him,” said the longtime coach.
Vercellotti led Fallon 158 yards on the ground, while Nelson finished with 82 yards rushing and 31 yards passing.
Jund riddled the Fallon secondary with two long passes to Larson to set up the final play of the drive. Fallon’s defensive line led by TJ Mauga chased Jund out of the pocket, but the Spring Creek quarterback hooked up with Larsonon a 19-yard pass for a touchdown. Fallon held a 22-20 lead after Spring Creek’s unsuccessful conversion.
Vercellotti’s 67-yard kickoff return brought the ball to the Spartans 18-yard line. Four plays later, Uptain scored from the 1, and Nelson’s pass to Dylan Ernst gave Fallon a 10-point lead, 30-20, with 2:48 on the scoreboard.
Spring Creek jumped on Fallon for two touchdowns in the third quarter to lead 34-30.
On Spring Creek’s first drive in the third quarter, Jund intensified his passing game that included a 12-yard pass to Larson and four completions to Painter for 52 yards.
On a fourth and 2 from the 5-yard line Jund scored on a keeper. Spring Creek trailed 30-26 after Jund’s incomplete pass on the conversion.
On Fallon’s next series of plays, the Spring Creek defense forced the Wave to punt. Quickly the Spartans moved down the field and scored again on a Jund keeper with 2:14 left in the quarter.
Painter ran the ball in for the 2-point conversion, and Spring Creek grabbed its first lead of the night, 34-30.
Both teams couldn’t score on their next series.
With 7:22 left in the game, Fallon relied on Vercellotti’s running to drive toward the end zone. The Fallon senior carried the ball seven times for 28 yards including a 1-yard dive for Fallon’s final score and lead of the night.