Vaqueros trounce Vikings for first win of Sloan era

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Marciano Montano fights for yardage in the second half of last Friday’s game against South Tahoe. (Photos courtesy of Jackie Kingston)

Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

A week after looking hesitant and unsure in their opening loss to Lowry, a much more confident and aggressive Fernley team broke off one big play after another Friday night, dominating South Tahoe, 43-7, despite committing five turnovers.

Playing their first home game of the season in Dayton, because construction of a new grandstand on their home field is not finished, the Vaqueros got three touchdown runs by Gabe Tollestrup and two by Keeshawn Love to even their record at 1-1.

This week they will travel to face Bishop (Calif.) Union Friday at 7 p.m. Bishop Union is 2-0, having outscored its opponents 93-3.

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But, as they showed Friday night, the Vaqueros who will be trying to tame the Broncos this week won’t be the same tentative bunch that opened the season at Lowry.

“It’s night and day, and you can see it,” coach Anfernee Sloan said.

The first sign that things would be different came on the first snap of the game, when Tollestrup pulled the ball on an option play and scooted around the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. His other two touchdowns were similar, both on option keepers, a 25-yard run to make it 19-0 with 4:49 left in the second quarter, and a 13-yarder with 6:42 left in the third quarter that made it 26-7.

“Offensively you see what we didn’t do last week against Lowry, we’re pulling the ball, we’re pitching the ball, we’re executing the right blocking assignments,” Sloan said. “A couple of the touchdowns we scored, it’s clear, we’re getting a good mesh, we’re getting guys turned around, they don’t even know where the football is when we’re walking into the end zone.”

A couple of mistakes were all that stood between the Vaqueros had their opportunities to put the game away in the first half. Shortly after Tollestrup’s second touchdown, he took an option keeper around the left side for 54 yards, to the South Tahoe 39. But on the next play, and errant pitch on a toss play rolled all the way back into Fernley territory, where Aaron Valencia picked it up for South Tahoe and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown. South Tahoe, which to that point had managed only two first downs, was within 19-7 with 2:57 left in the second quarter.

A short kickoff set Fernley up at their own 49-yard line, and a couple plays later, a 34-yard run by Garrett Harjo took the ball to the South Tahoe 4-yard line, but the Vaqueros were unable to score, coming up short on three runs and throwing incomplete on fourth down.

“Now, that’s two weeks in a row we’ve gotten down to the goal line and gotten stuffed,” Sloan said.

After fumbling on their first offensive play of the second half, the Vaqueros scored on their next four possessions to put the game away.

“It was very clear to see the execution of the little details,” Sloan said. “Same thing with defense. We ran to the football, we tackled the football. Last week we hesitated and it was like we didn’t know what we were doing, and football, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to play slow.”

The Vaqueros lost five turnovers, two of them on muffed punt returns. While one was returned for a touchdown, Sloan said he was impressed the Vaqueros defense was able to get a stop after each of the other four.

“Being so young, you make a mistake like that, it’s so easy to just give up, just roll over,” Sloan said. “This week they responded well, and again I think it just stems from them just knowing what their job is, knowing that they can execute it and believe in it. The flip side is, you can’t (turn the ball over) against really good teams, the Elkos and Fallons.”

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