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Elko shut down, shut out at Fernley

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FERNLEY — After a 4-0 start to the season and a 3-0 record in league play — including back-to-back, last-ditch comeback wins against North Valleys at home and Sparks on the road — the Elko football team fell for the first time on Friday night, the Indians on the wrong side of a 30-0 shutout loss at Fernley.

Entering the contest, the teams the Indians had beaten in league play had a combined record of 1-9 in the 3A North — the tally currently standing at 1-12 — Fernley going into the game an even 2-2 in league play, its losses coming on the road by close scores of 42-35 at No. 1 Fallon (5-0 in league) and 34-28 at No. 2 Lowry (4-1 in league).

One more loss by South Tahoe (1-4 in league) will ensure Elko a playoff spot, owning the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 36-12 win over the Vikings in the Indians’ season opener.

The Vaqueros went the distance on their first possession Friday.

Fernley broke off a big gain from a motion give to junior Kyle Jones and another lengthy run from junior Brandon Reyes on an option.

Senior quarterback Miles Steele called his own number for a first down, the chains moved once more from a toss to senior Lonnie Halterman.

From the Elko 18, the Indians keyed on Steele — who pitched the ball to Reyes for a touchdown on the left side.

Senior Jack Knodell added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 8:42 remaining in the first quarter.

On Elko’s first drive, the Indians moved the chains with a five-yard tote by junior Kaiden Cervantes and a 10-yard run from senior Rolando Acosta.

On 3rd-and-3, Acosta leaped and was given a favorable spot by the line judge for another first down.

Junior quarterback Jake Zeller carried for four yards to the Fernley 44, but Elko fumbled the football on the next play — the Vaqueros jumping on the ball in the backfield.

Fernley capitalized.

Jones took another toss for a big chunk to the Elko 34, junior Anthony Thompson catching a bubble screen and running the 19.

Steele pushed up the middle and followed his blockers to the Indians’ 5, the drive capped by a strong run from Jones — breaking a would-be tackle for a touchdown.

Knodell’s PAT made the score 14-0 with 1:02 on the clock.

The Indians fumbled the football on the kickoff but got it back with a recovery by junior Manny Alvarado at the 38.

However, the Indians went backward and faced a 3rd-and-25.

A short handoff led to a punt, the kick bouncing all the way to the Fernley 35.

Steele broke free from several tackles on third down and set up 4th-and-1.

A great push gave Steele two yards and a fresh set of downs.

On 3rd-and-3, the Indians blew up an option play — the ball popping free.

However, Halterman scooped up the trash and ran all the way to the Elko 14.

The Indians stiffened, making several plays near the line of scrimmage — including a tackle for a loss by Zeller.

On fourth down, the Vaqueros trotted out the field-goal unit — Knodell’s strike from 24 yards splitting the uprights for a 17-0 lead with 5:30 on the clock.

The Indians went three-and-out on their ensuing drive, punting across midfield.

Fernley moved the sticks to the Elko 47 with a 15-yard tripping penalty, and Thompson used a filthy piece of running to make men miss and score a 47-yard TD — the effort for naught — called back by a costly holding penalty.

However, Steele made Elko’s secondary bite up with a pump fake — leaving a linebacker on Jones.

The completion went for a first down at the Elko 25.

Acosta kept playing — despite fighting an uphill battle — making a big play behind the line of scrimmage.

The newt-two passes fell incomplete, but a pass interference penalty on the Indians marched the Vaqueros 15-yards closer.

Acosta nearly broke up a handoff in the backfield, and Marvel made a huge sack on third down.

On fourth down, the Vaqueros lined up for a 39-yard field goal — Acosta blocking the kick and leaving the deficit at 17-0.

Senior Nick Kinder moved the chains with a first down, but the Indians kneeled on the football and went to the break.

Elko went three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter, and Steele broke an option-keeper from the Fernley 30 to the Elko 43 — brought back with a drive-killing penalty.

The Vaqueros’ punt was returned to midfield by junior Lincoln Ratliff.

However, a sack by junior David Sisneros pushed Elko back to the original line of scrimmage — forcing a punt — Ratliff kicking the ball deep and pinning Fernley at its own 6.

The Vaqueros began the drive that iced the game, despite committing multiple holding penalties that negated long runs.

Steele picked up a first down with a tough run up the middle to the 17, Jones breaking through three defenders for a chain mover at the 31.

Reyes surged to the 42 for a fresh set of downs, and Thompson went all the way to the Elko 40 — brought back with a hold — but Steele broke another lengthy run to the Indians’ 34.

He completed a pass to Thompson at the 25, setting up 4th-and-1.

Steele was stacked up at the line, but his second effort was key — marching to the 23.

Thompson showed off his athletic ability with some shake-and-bake moves, weaving and cutting through the Elko defense for a 23-yard touchdown.

The extra point was true, opening a 24-0 lead with 10:09 remaining in the game.

On 3rd-and-9 from their own 21, the Indians picked up a 13-yard carry by Acosta for Elko’s fifth first down of the game.

However, progress was thwarted by a hold and a fumble — Fernley taking control at the Elko 20.

Reyes broke the first play for a touchdown, but hankies littered the field — holds taking the points off the board.

He carried for 24 yards on the next snap from the 31 to the Elko 7.

On 4th-and-goal from the inside the 1, Steele took the snap and bulled in after getting stopped — his second effort once again proving to the be the difference between a turnover on downs — turning each of the Indians’ two turnovers into touchdowns.

Fernley’s two-point conversion was batted down on a pass attempt.

The Vaqueros cruised to a 30-0 victory, outgaining the Indians 348 yards (281 rushing, 67 passing) to 98 yards (95 rushing, three passing) — Fernley moving the chains 16 times, Elko gaining just six first downs.

The time of possession was nearly two to one, Fernley running 31:23 off the clock to Elko’s 16:37 — the Vaqueros running 62 offensive plays to 38 plays for the Indians.

Up Next

The Indians (4-1 overall, 3-1 in league) will look for a rebound performance against Truckee (3-3 overall, 2-2 in league) at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.


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Related to this story

The Elko football team is addicted to late-game drama; the Indians overcoming a sloppy performance of five turnovers and a plethora of personal fouls and mistakes with a gritty, never-say-die effort with three fourth-down conversions on their final drive that ended with a 4th-and-10, 21-yard touchdown throw from Jake Zeller to Brigg Johnson for a 14-12 win Friday at Sparks.

On Friday night, the Elko football team saw a 20-0 lead evaporate — the offense going nowhere and the defense unable to make stops late — the Indians surviving a huge rally by North Valleys with a late one of their own.

With 59 seconds remaining, the left-footed boot by senior Jake Zeller lifted the Indians to a two-point victory of 23-21.

Coming off a 30-0 shutout loss at Fernley, the Indians (4-1 overall, 3-1 in league) will need to take care of the football , move the chains and get off the field defensively against Truckee (3-3 overall, 2-2 in league) — kickoff set for 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.

The Elko football team will look to end a three-game losing streak, the Indians hosting No. 2 Lowry for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warior Field. 

How does No. 6 Elko approach its first-round playoff game at No. 3 Truckee following a 40-point shutout loss? On Oct. 4, Elko (4-4- in league) lost a 23-12 home game to the Wolverines (6-2 in league) — the score closer than the game between the lines — each team committing a multitude of penalties and the Indians scoring an inconsequential touchdown with little time left on the clock. The Indians will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, in Truckee, California.

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