Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
Thanks to a stifling defensive effort, the Fernley Vaqueros evened their record in league play at 2-2 with their second consecutive win last Friday, 18-6 at South Tahoe.
Friday they will test themselves against an Elko team aiming for its fifth straight.
The Vaqueros (2-3 overall) will travel to Elko for Friday’s game against the Indians, who are 4-0 and tied with Fallon for the Northern 3A lead.
In running to that 4-0 record, the Indians have outscored South Tahoe, Dayton North Valleys and Sparks, 149-27.
The Indians have run the ball for an average of 283.8 yards per game. Most of the damage has been done by senior Cooper Jones, 5-7, 150, who has carried 38 times for 416 yards and five touchdowns, and junior Colby Tiner, 5-7, 160, has 46 carries for 403 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Carter Alvarado has thrown only 27 passes, completing 13 for 281 yards, with six of the completions going for touchdowns.
Last Friday, the Vaqueros overcame a slow start and an early deficit with a dominant defensive effort, after an early Vikings scoring drive.
Fernley turned the ball over on a fumble on their first possession at the South Tahoe 43-yard line, leading to a 20-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 South Tahoe lead.
Fernley finally got moving on its third drive, getting on the board on a 39-yard field goal by Jack Knodell on the fourth play of the second quarter.
The Vaqueros’ defense set up the next score, recovering a fumble at the South Tahoe 8, and quarterback Cooper Henderson cashed it in with a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the half.
The Vaqueros pulled off a little trickery, recovering an onside kick, and a 33-yard run by Henderson put them in business at the Vikings’ 18. But a penalty killed the drive, and a 42-yard field goal was partially blocked.
The Vaqueros controlled the ball for most of the third quarter, with a 15-play drive that started at the Fernley 20 and reached the South Tahoe 9 before a penalty moved the ball back and a 40-yard field goal attempt again was partially blocked.
An offensive facemask penalty backed the Vikings deep into their own territory, and on fourth down a bad snap on a punt attempt went out of the end zone, giving the Vaqueros a safety and a 12-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Vaqueros defense, meanwhile, forced two other turnovers, had consecutive sacks that ended another Viking drive, and stopped the Vikings on a fourth down play at the Fernley 37.
Following the last stop, a 27-yard run by Brandon Reyes keyed a 63-yard drive, as the Vaqueros put the game away with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Henderson to Anthony Thompson.