Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
About an hour and a half before last Friday’s game at Lowry, Fernley coach Chris Ward found Lowry running back Preston Snow in the weight room in the middle of a vigorous workout.
For Ward, that dedication, as much as anything, explains Lowry’s 34-28 win over the Vaqueros.
“We got out weight roomed,” Ward said.
Behind the power-running of Anthony Peterson and the blocking of Snow, the Buckaroos dominated the Vaqueros on the ground and blocked a punt for a touchdown.
“It was definitely a winnable game,” Ward said. “We let that one slip through our fingers.”
Victory eluded the Vaqueros’ grasp, largely because, time and again, Peterson did.
Peterson got most of their yardage running “power,” the old standby play where a pulling lineman helps double team a defender at the point of attack, while a lead blocker takes out the linebacker trying to fill the hole. The Buckaroos, though, did it out of a shotgun formation, and while the Vaqueros knew what was coming, they couldn’t stop it.
“We had trouble with it,” Ward said. “We got guys at the right spot, we just didn’t make plays.”
As successful as the Buckaroos were running the ball, the Vaqueros were even more so. Peterson had 187 yards on 29 carries, while Lowry totaled 258 yards on 46 carries.
The Vaqueros ran for 295 yards on 34 carries, with Brandon Reyes gaining 137 on 17 carries. Miles Steele added 80 yards on 10 carries.
The Vaqueros actually scored touchdowns on four of their seven possessions in the game, but one of the ones they didn’t ended up being the difference.
Fernley only had the ball three times in the first half, but with touchdown runs by Anthony Thompson ad Brandon Reyes, they were tied 14-14 until Lowry quarterback Chance Huitt scored with 4:16 left in the first half to make it 20-14.
The Vaqueros came out of the half and got an immediate stop, then took their only lead of the game, 21-20, on a 43-yard touchdown run by Kyle Jones.
With the lead, followed by a false start penalty and a 2-yard loss by the Buckaroos, the Vaqueros were in position to take control of the game with a stop and a score, but instead, Peterson ran for 11 yards on second-and-17, Huitt ran for 8 on third-and-6, and seven plays later, a short touchdown run by Huitt put Lowry back on top, 26-21.
The Vaqueros started their next drive well and reached the Lowry 37-yard line but fumbled on the last play of the third quarter. Although they got it back, they were behind the sticks and unable to convert a first down. Jace Mentaberry blocked the subsequent punt and returned it for a touchdown, putting the Buckaroos up 34-21.
“That was the difference maker,” Ward said.
A touchdown run by Steele got the Vaqueros back within 34-28 with 8:29 still to play, but Lowry ran seven minutes off the clock on their final drive. The Vaqueros stopped the Buckaroos on fourth-and-goal from the 1, taking the ball back with 99 yards and 1:30 left to go, but an interception by Tyler Neu sealed the game for Lowry.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” Ward said. “We’re definitely better than that, for sure.”
They’ll get the chance to prove that Friday, when they try to even their league record against South Tahoe. The Vikings are also 1-2 in league play, having lost 36-21 last week to Spring Creek.
The challenge this week will be much different. While Lowry ran through the Vaqueros with power, the Vikings will mostly spread the field and throw the ball. South Tahoe has thrown the ball 108 times so far this season, and run it only 70, though those carries have gone for an average of 8 yards. Quarterback Jake Tarwater has completed 70 of 108 passes for 1,192 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
Ward, though, said it doesn’t matter what scheme the opponents run, if the Vaqueros don’t play well.
“I just want us to play to our potential,” he said. “If we play good, we’re going to win most of our games.”