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FERNLEY – The Elko football team took a 24-21 lead with 5:11 remaining in the game, facing an undefeated Fernley team on the road Friday night. The Indians left 4:26 too much time on the clock for the Vaqueros, who scored with 45 seconds remaining and handed Elko its first loss of the season, falling 29-24.

The first quarter proved to be a scoreless affair, but both teams moved the ball deep in to the opponents’ territory – each failing to generate points.

The Indians found the board first, taking a 3-0 lead with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter when senior Nick Smiley connected on a 30-yard field goal. Smiley would prove to be a factor once again in the contest, details ahead.

The Vaqueros did not have a whole of success moving the ball consistently against the Indians, but Fernley used the big play at various times to doom Elko. The first instance came with just 1:32 remaining in the first half, facing 3rd-and-10 from the Elko 35-yard line.

Fernley senior Kyle Throckmorton eluded Elko defenders and turned on the juice – not only picking up the first down – he took it all the way home, giving the Vaqueros a 7-3 lead.

The Indians began their drive with 1:35 on the clock and moved the ball to midfield, but an interception ended the drive with eight seconds remaining in the second period.

The Vaqueros did not just snap the ball and take a knee. They ran a play, and Throckmorton squirted through two layers of the Elko defense, threatening to score. Elko senior Dustin Baum saved a potential touchdown with a tackle to end the half.

Elko trailed 7-3 at the break.

The Indians regained the lead on their first possession of the third period, taking a 10-7 lead after a short run by senior running back Jacob Pengelly. Pengelly began the drive with a bang, rattling off a 41-yard burst to the Fernley 32. Smiley made a sliding catch from senior quarterback Alex Puentes at the 15-yard line, and Pengelly ran for another first down – finishing the drive with a four-yard score. Smiley added the extra point.

The Vaqueros failed to generate any offense on their next possession and tried some trickery with a fake punt, but Pengelly nailed the runner in the backfield and set up the Indians in excellent field position.

Puentes rushed for a first down on 3rd-and-7 to the Fernley 15, and Pengelly went beast mode on 2nd-and-10, breaking three tackles and punching through for his second touchdown in as many possessions.

Smiley’s point-after-attempt was successful, and Elko took a 17-7 lead.

The Indians forced Fernley to punt, but Elko was stopped on third down and tried a fake punt of its own – but Pengelly was dropped short of the stick.

Elko forced Fernley into a 4th-and-3 from the Indians’ 31. Smiley put high pressure on Throckmorton, but he rolled out of the pocket and completed a pass to Eddie Sloan at the Elko 23. A.C. Reyes ran for a first down to the Elko 13, and the third quarter came to a close.

Not much time ran off the clock to start the fourth quarter before Fernley closed the gap to 17-13 – exactly six seconds and 13 yards chewed up by Matt Taylor. However, the kick was missed.

Disaster struck on Elko’s following possession. Facing fourth down, the Indians lined up to punt from their own 32-yard line. The snap flew over Pengelly’s head and sailed to the Fernley 3. The Vaqueros quickly capitalized, as Sam Ramirez rushed in and gave Fernley a 19-17 lead. Throckmorton completed a two-point conversion, extending the lead to 21-17.

The Indians moved the ball to the Fernley 23, but the drive stalled – and Elko faced 4th-and 9. The coaching staff drew up a screen pass, which was thrown to Smiley, and he made a fantastic run – receiving contact at the 10-yard line and again at the 5-yard line, dragging Fernley defenders and Elko’s hopes with him – all the way in for a score with 5:11 remaining in the game.

Fernley showed resiliency and he ability to make plays in the clutch.

The Vaqueros picked up three or four first downs, setting up shop at the Elko 27 with less than one minute remaining. Ramirez burst through the line and bounced off would-be tacklers, scoring a huge touchdown with 45 seconds on the clock.

Sloan completed the two-point conversion, giving Fernley a 29-24 lead and forcing the Indians to score a touchdown.

Elko moved the ball downfield with the help of a pass interference call, but a double-pass attempt went awry as the Elko wide receiver could not locate the ball near the goal line. The Indians fired a pass downfield on the final play of the game, but the ball wound up in the hands of a Fernley defender on a game-ending interception.

The Indians fall to 2-1 on the season and will attempt to find the win column at 7 p.m. Friday against Truckee at Warrior Field.


Sports editor and reporter

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