Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Nine consecutive times, the Fernley Vaqueros had walked off the field with the bitter taste of defeat after facing Fallon.
The Vaqueros may be savoring the flavors of Friday’s win in Fallon for a long time.
Fernley rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Fallon for the first time since the Greenwave joined the 3A in 2010, which was also Chris Ward’s first year as head coach of the Vaqueros.
“We’ve been close quite a few times, but this the first one we’re able to get it done,” Ward said.
Zach Burns scored on a 3-yard touchdown keeper, then connected with Aaron Proctor on a 2-point conversion with 33.7 seconds left in the game to complete the comeback and give Fernley its biggest win since it ended Truckee’s 42-game winning streak in 2012.
“They got it done at the end and we didn’t,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “For us, we go back to the drawing board next week.”
Leading 30-24, the Greenwave had a chance to put the game away, but Elijah Jackson’s pass into the end zone on 4th-and-6 was incomplete with 3:01 left in the game. A false start penalty had moved the ball back from the 1-yard line to the 6.
“We punch that in, it’s probably over, and we didn’t execute,” Hill said. “We’re one yard away and we feel pretty good about what we’re doing, but we’re young, and my center takes his hand off the ball.”
The Vaqueros then drove 94 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 3-yard option keeper by Burns.
Ward then decided to go for two, rather than kick the extra point, even after a delay of game penalty moved the ball back to the 8-yard line, because Fernley had struggled in the kicking game all night.
“The smart thing would have probably been to just kick it and get the one, but you can see, we weren’t being very successful in our kicking game, and we had momentum, so we might as well gear it up and try to get short yardage,” Ward said.
Burns found Proctor on a post route on a play with a run/pass option, sparking a wild celebration on the Fernley sideline that erupted into a full-fledged party after time ran out of Fallon’s last-second drive.
“My blood pressure’s starting to come down now,” Ward said. “We’ve been practicing a long time, and it’s what they needed to show all that work is worth it.”
Jackson scored a 22-yard touchdown on a meandering scramble – where he started toward the right sideline then wound his way all the back across the field – with 6:57 left in the game put Fallon ahead 30-18.
Proctor kept the Vaqueros alive with a 57-yard touchdown run on a reverse to cut the lead to 30-24 with 5:59 left in the game.
“They battled, they came back when we had a 13-point lead or something, so you got to give it to them,” Hill said. “That’s what a senior group should do.”
Fallon opened its lead in the third quarter. The Greenwave scored on a safety, when Fernley was called for intentional grounding in the end zone after a bad snap on a punt, to make it 16-12 with 9:29 left in the third quarter. On 4th and 6 after the free kick, Jackson scrambled away from trouble and found Sean McCormick crossing the middle of the field, and McCormick outran the Fernley defense to the end zone for a 23-12 lead with 8:12 left in the third.
Burns got Fernley back within one score with a 34-yard run with 1:37 left in the third quarter.
Fernley opened the game with a 14-play drive that ate up almost nine minutes, taking a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown by Willy Pritchard.
Fallon struck back quickly, taking a 7-6 lead on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Brock Richardson. Reid Clyburn scored on a 5-yard run with 5:31 left in the second quarter for a 14-6 lead.
Fernley cut it to 14-12 with 43.6 seconds left in the half.
Next week, The Greenwave will host Truckee, which beat Wooster 35-0 Friday night. Fernley will travel to Lowry, which lost 35-7 to Spring Creek.
“We still feel like we’re a pretty good football team, but we’ve got to shore up some of the things that are weakness, and part of our weakness is that we’re young and we make mistakes,” Hill said. “If we play cleaner and we get better during the week and we just get more experience, we’ll be a better football team at the end, and that’s what we want to be.”
Fernley, meanwhile, will try to turn an early-season breakthrough win into season-long momentum.
“I think it’s going to do wonders for our kids,” Ward said.
Photos by Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter