Spartans come back, beat Fallon 35-21
To start Friday’s game, Spring Creek did everything it could to lose to Fallon.
For the final 20 minutes of the contest the Spartans dug deep and went on a 28-0 run — advancing to the 3A state semifinal with a 35-21 victory over the Greenwave.
The Greenwave received the opening kick but were forced to punt, gaining a beautiful kick by junior Tristan Rodarte.
The boomer pinned the Spartans within their own 5-yard line, and disaster struck on Spring Creek’s opening drive of the game.
The Greenwave forced a fumble, which was recovered by senior Trent Thorn, setting up Fallon in a great spot.
Senior quarterback Sean McCormick turned the takeaway into points in one snap.
He kept the ball on an option read, cashing in up the middle from five yards.
The extra point by Tallon Amezquita gave the Greenwave a 7-0 with 9:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Spring Creek was shut down on short runs and a screen pass from senior Thomas Ledford to senior running back Jason Painter was blown up in the backfield.
The Spartans punted to midfield.
Fallon picked up a first down with a run by McCormick to the Spring Creek 32, and sophomore Brock Richardson found a seam and cut back from left to right — dashing to the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown.
Amezquita’s PAT gave the Greenwave a 14-0 advantage with 6:25 on the clock.
Spring Creek picked up a first down with a run by Painter on its next drive, gaining a big pass play down the field but coughing the ball up once again at the Fallon 43.
The Greenwave moved the ball down the field with the legs of McCormick and Richardson, but misfortunes on turnovers changed.
Spring Creek junior Chance Bailey forced a fumble, the recovery made by senior Trey Edson at the 20-yard line — avoiding the possibility of going down 21-0.
From the 20, Painter used both explosiveness and patience — making jump cuts and waiting for his blocks.
He saw an opening and cut back from right to left, tearing up 60 yards of green to the Fallon 20 on the ultimate field flopper.
The Spartans stalled and faced 4th-and-5 from the 15, leaving the offense on the field.
Receivers were initially covered, but Ledford did a good job of extending the play with feet.
Buying time allowed senior receiver Dakota Larson to get open and make a catch, reeling in the pass and doing the rest with his elite speed.
Larson ran past defenders to the middle of the field and pulled the Spartans to within 14-7 following the PAT by sophomore Ethan Lulay with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Fallon marched down the field with big runs by McCormick and Richardson and a pass to senior Clayton Steelmon to inside the Spartans’ 20.
Spring Creek’s defense tightened down the clamps and came up with a big sack on third down, forcing a turnover on downs on fourth.
Neither team found any offensive traction for the remainder of the second period, the game going to halftime with Fallon on top 14-7.
The third quarter did not begin well for the Spartans, turning the ball over for the third time on a fumble at midfield.
Rodarte picked up the loose ball and rumbled all the way to the Spring Creek 1.
Richardson punched home on the next play and gave the Greenwave a 21-7 lead with 8:39 remaining in the third period.
The Spartans answered the bell from that point forward.
With Larson drawing double teams down the field, sophomore Jeff Guthrie picked up the slack underneath.
He caught multiple passes across the middle for first downs and Ledford picked up another with his legs.
Senior Jake Oliphant made a big catch to the Fallon 11, Painter capping the drive with a three-yard rushing score.
Lulay’s PAT made the score 21-14 with 4:47 left on the clock.
Spring Creek forced a punt and went 90 yards on its next drive.
Guthrie picked up 16 yards to the 26, and Ledford connected on a bomb to Painter down the right side to the Fallon 33.
Painter moved the ball to the 11 with a catch and a rush.
The Spartans knotted the score with an 11-yard rushing touchdown by Edson, Lulay making it 21-all with 27 seconds left in the third.
The defense changed the game for Spring Creek.
The Spartans gave up yards but they never broke.
McCormick and Richardson moved the ball on the ground to the Spring Creek 34, McCormick nearly picking up a first down to the Spring Creek 25.
Senior K-Ci Slade combined for a tackle for a loss on third down, and the defense stopped McCormick short on fourth down — turnover on downs.
Ledford picked up a first down on a rush, and then fired a deep pass to Painter over the middle.
He made men miss, reversed field and advanced all the way to the Fallon 15 — capping the 75-yard drive with a six-yard rushing score.
The extra point was good and gave Spring Creek a 28-21 lead with 4:51 remaining in the game.
Fallon killed its next drive with a holding penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct call, punting the ball back to the Spartans.
Needing a stop, the Greenwave could not make one — the Spartans not to be denied of a trip to the state semifinal.
Spring Creek methodically marched down the field with the run, Painter scoring his third touchdown with a little more than two minutes on the clock.
Fallon used the running of McCormick to advance to the Spring Creek 6, but the Spartans turned up the defense and forced a big stop on fourth down.
Spring Creek advanced to the state semifinal with a 35-21 victory, having to travel to Las Vegas and take on No. 1 Desert Pines — which defeated the Spartans in the 2016 state championship.
The Jaguars beat Sunrise Mountain 48-0 Friday night.
In the other 3A North contest, Fernley defeated Truckee 21-11 on Friday.
The Vaqueros will host Mojave, which took down Virgin Valley 46-20 in the other 3A South ballgame.