Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
After surviving a penalty-marred contest last Friday that was cut short by the officials, the Fernley Vaqueros will host Spring Creek Thursday in the first round of the Northern 3A playoffs.
The Vaqueros beat Dayton 43-10 last Friday, in a game that was called by the officials with a little more than five minutes remaining. The game was stopped after a series of personal foul penalties, including the ejections of three Dayton players.
Fernley coach Chris Ward declined to comment, not wanting to risk a reprimand from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities. But, he said the Vaqueros had trouble getting into a rhythm because of all of the personal fouls and chippiness between the two teams.
“A lot of it was because of how it was played,” Ward said. “It took away from the game.”
Starting right tackle and defensive end Ethan Harris suffered a knee injury in the game, and Ward said they would find out this week how serious the injury is, and whether Harris will miss this week’s game. Freshman outside linebacker Gage Gothan, who was brought up to the varsity for the game, also injured his knee.
Despite the penalty fest, Ward said the Vaqueros had their moments. For the third straight game the Vaqueros started quickly, scoring on the fourth play of the game, on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Miles Steele to Junior Halterman, who made an athletic catch, having to turn around to catch the ball after initially turning over his other shoulder.
“That’s stuff you just can’t coach,” Ward said.
Fernley’s second drive resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Jack Knodell, although Steele had to leave the game during that drive after being poked in the eye after a 7-yard run to the Dayton 18-yard line.
After Fernley was unsuccessful on an onside kick, Dayton drive 45 yards for a score to cut the lead to 10-7
Moments later, Carter Chapin perfectly read a middle screen and intercepted the pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown that put Fernley up 17-7.
“It’s probably a good thing he intercepted it, because if it was complete, the guy had a lot of open field behind us,” Ward said.
In the second half, the Vaqueros got touchdown runs from Brandon Reyes, Anthony Thompson and J.R. Reyes.
The Vaqueros ended the season 6-3 in the Northern 3A and 6-4 overall, and earned the No. 4 playoff seed. Thursday the Vaqueros will host Spring Creek, which they beat 28-21 on Oct. 5. In that game, the Vaqueros had a 21-7 lead and ran for 273 yards on 41 carries and had 92 more yards passing, while holding the Spartans to 238 yards of total offense, but had two turnovers that contributed to Spring Creek’s rally to tie the game, before the Vaqueros won with a late score.
Ward said the Spartans came out in a defensive front in that game that the Vaqueros hadn’t seen on film, so much of this week’s practices were dedicated to being prepared for any surprises the Spartans may have.
“And I’m sure they’re making adjustments to what they did,” Ward said.