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Indians destroy Spartans

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ELKO — The Spring Creek Spartans gave Elko a football game for about a quarter Friday night, then the homecoming party kicked into full swing for the Indians.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Indians hung 28 points on the board in the second — continuing their dominance throughout — adding 20 points after the break and cruising to a 49-0 victory, the No. 1 seed of the Division 3A North-East and a first-round bye for the playoffs.

Elko won the coin toss but deferred to the second half, and the Spartans began their first drive at their own 20.

Senior running back Jacob Marizza gained a first down on carries of five and seven yards, junior quarterback Weston Petersen rushed for five and Marizza went for three more — Petersen moving the chains once again with his legs to the 48.

Junior Maddox Moye caught a bubble screen for five yards, and Elko was called for encroachment — moving the ball to the Indians’ 41 — but the Spartans coughed up the football, senior Braedon Swaffield recovering the rock for the Indians at their own 45.

Spring Creek senior Keefer Campbell recorded a tackle in the backfield for a loss of 5, but junior quarterback Justus Nielsen threw a swing pass to junior wide receiver Ayden Whiting for a 15-yard gain and a fresh set of downs.

After a short run, sophomore Preston Chamberlin took a screen pass for seven yards.

But, sophomore running back Eli Finlayson was tossed backward for a loss of three — setting up a 4th-and-4.

Finlayson converted and then some with a big gain to the Spartans’ 23, marching even closer to the goal line with a horse-collar tackle by Spring Creek.

However, the Spartans stiffened — Campbell making another play in the backfield and senior Johnny Slade notching a sack.

After an incomplete pass, Elko elected to try a 34-yard field goal — which was shanked.

The Spartans took over on downs and gained 20 yards on two passes from Petersen to senior Ian Russell, and Petersen gained seven yards on the ground to the for another first down.

Marizza was stopped after a gain of one, and consecutive passes fell incomplete — Spring Creek lining up to punt on 4th-and-9.

Elko jumped offside, but the Spartans still elected to kick — Whiting returning to the Elko 30.

Nielsen moved the chains with a second-run down of eight yards, but the Indians were forced to punt after a four-yard gain by Finlayson, an incomplete pass on a well-thrown ball down the left sideline and a swing pass for no gain.

Sophomore Cael Sellers got off a nice punt to the Spring Creek 21.

Elko senior Trapper Steelman booked a sack on first down, the final play of the first quarter — the game knotted up at zeros.

From that point forward, all Indians.

Marizza had a tough carry for three yards, but the Spartans were penalized for a block in the back — which Elko declined — and the Spartans had a pass fall incomplete on 3rd-and-15.

From its own 16, Spring Creek punted — Whiting making a nice return to the Spartans’ 45.

The Indians hard-counted themselves and moved back to midfield, but Finlayson took the next snap to the house — breaking free around the left edge and racing 50 yards to paydirt.

A high snap on the extra point was bobbled and picked from the air by Sellers — the place kicker — but he was dropped behind the line of scrimmage.

However, the Indians took a 6-0 lead and never looked back.

Moye returned the kickoff to the 23, and he gained a first down with a seven-yard catch after a five-yard tote by Petersen.

But, the Spartans punted — Swaffield and Finlayson combining for a big tackle on second down and the Indians dropping a near pick on third.

From its own 34, Elko went back to the well — Finlayson laying the truck stick on a should-be tackler for a 15-yard gain.

Chamberlin went for nine yards on a pass to the flat, and Finlayson’s number was called on four straight snaps — accounting for 32 yards — including an incredible run with multiple spin moves and constant leg churning to the Spring Creek 11.

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

After a false start, Finlayson bulled his way for 11 yards to the 6 — capping the drive with a six-yard TD.

Another bad snap on the two-point try — the ball rolling on the ground — resulted in Nielsen picking the ball off the grass but still managing to find his way to the end zone.

With 5:16 remaining in the second quarter, Elko led 14-0.

On the Spartans’ next possession — which began at their own 26 — Elko junior Mason Chacon dominated, dropping a ball carrier for a six-yard loss and recording a sack on third down.

Facing 4th-and-forever, Spring Creek kicked — Whiting breaking off another big return to the Spring Creek 26, where the Spartans had just started their drive four plays earlier.

It took one play.

Nielsen broke a draw straight up the middle and glided 26 yards for the score.

The extra point went awry once again, but Elko led 20-0.

Things went from bad to worse on Spring Creek’s next drive.

Facing a 3rd-and-9, the Spartans were intercepted near midfield by sophomore Jacob Aguirre — who returned the pick 40 yards to the Spring Creek 9.

Campbell tackled Finlayson for a loss of four, but Nielsen made a man miss in the backfield, shook off numerous defenders and scrambled for an incredible run — laying out and appearing to sneak the ball inside the pylon for a touchdown but being ruled out at the 1.

Finlayson plunged across the goal line for his third touchdown of the quarter and took a wildcat snap on the extra point, broke a tackle in the backfield but was met at the 3-yard line — proving to be too much man — taking a defender for an absolute ride for the conversion and a four-score lead.

At the half, the Indians led big at 28-0.

After deferring to the second half, Elko got the ball first in the third quarter — Finlayson returning the kickoff to the 40.

After an incomplete pass, he took the second-down snap all the way home(coming) — racing 60 yards for his fourth TD of the contest.

The extra point missed wide to the right, but the Spartans were called for a penalty — the Indians sending the offense back onto the field.

Nielsen faked out everyone with a great pull on the read-option, adding two more to the tally for a 36-0 advantage — turning the game into a running clock at the 11:32 mark of the third period.

A high snap killed Spring Creek’s next possession, punting on 4th-and-18.

Chamberlin caught a screen for five yards, and Finlayson ran for 14 yards from the Spring Creek 33 to the Spartans’ 19.

With another wildcat look, Finlayson handed the ball to senior Andres Cervantes — who gained eight yards.

Finlayson kept the ball on the next snap and bulled his way for seven yards to the 3 — picking up a huge block behind Cervantes, who pancaked a defender into the end zone — Cervantes closing the possession with a three-yard touchdown.

Sellers split the uprights on the PAT for a 43-0 lead with 4:42 remaining in the third.

Spring Creek started its next drive at the 30 after a return by Marizza, but Chacon made a nice tackle for no gain and sophomore Christian Felix provided a big pop on the second-down play.

A pick was dropped on third down, but the Indians were called for running in the punter on fourth — leaving a 4th-and-5 for the Spartans.

An incomplete pass turned the ball over on downs at the 36.

Elko went to a heavy dose of Cervantes, who carried for four yards, 12 yards and a first down, eight yards and four yards for a 1st-and-goal at the Spring Creek 8.

He carried for three yards on first down, and Chamberlin caught a pass in the left flat and wove his way to the Promised Land.

With 10:03 on the fourth-quarter clock, the Indians led 49-0.

Moye returned the kickoff to the 30, and junior David Hutchison picked up a first down with a 12-yard catch down the seam to the 42.

Senior Austin Harmening — who has not played since Sept. 3 after undergoing emergency surgery for compartment syndrome on his calf — ran four yards with a determined carry, picked up a first down at the Elko 44 on a 12-yard tote and gained another six before having a good gain taken away with a block in the back.

An incomplete pass set up 3rd-and-13, but Marizza gave Spring Creek a 4th-and-5 with an eight yard gain.

However, another pass fell harmlessly to the ground — preserving the shutout — turning the ball over on downs.

The Indians went into victory formation and kneeled on the ball, running out the clock and storming to a 49-0 win over the Spartans.

Up Next

For the Spartans, the season is over — finishing with a 3-4 overall record and a 1-3 mark in league play.

Elko (6-2 overall) posted a perfect record in league play and improved to 4-0 in the Division 3A North-East — earning a first-round bye and hosting a regional semifinal game — taking on the winner of No. 2 West Truckee and No. 3 Fernley matchup, at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at Warrior Field.

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