RENO – The Elko football team did its damage Friday on North Valleys by grinding down the bigger Panthers with determined running, solid blocking and hard-nosed defensive plays along the front.
The Indians improved to 3-0 with a 33-7 victory.
Elko began the game with an eight-yard carry by senior Cooper Jones, the Indians picking up a first down with a third-down toss from senior quarterback Carter Alvarado to junior back Colby Tiner.
The chains were moved again by senior Christian Quintana, but the play was called back on a holding penalty – killing the drive after moving back to a 20-yard hole.
Tiner punted to the North Valleys 35.
North Valleys picked up a nice gain on the ground with its first play from senior Garrett Pennington, and the Panthers sucked up the Indians with a play-action pass on the second snap.
Senior quarterback Kyle Claiborne fired a shot down the field to senior receiver Tyler Jones to the Elko 25.
Elko senior linebacker Chris Meza penetrated the backfield and dumped the ball carrier for a loss.
The Panthers pushed themselves back with a false start, but Pennington carried for 11 yards to the 20-yard line.
On 3rd-and-5, Elko senior Luis Garcia blew up the middle of the line.
The Indians took over on downs, as Claiborne’s run came up short.
Jones ran to the outside and picked up 20 yards on Elko’s first play of the drive.
On 4th-and-2 from the 45, Tiner picked up a first down with his legs from a punt formation but another penalty eliminated a fresh set of downs.
On the ensuing would-be kick, he went back to the well and broke four tackles for a chain mover at midfield.
On 3rd-and-7, the Indians did more thank pick up a fresh set of downs with the pass.
Alvarado fired the football in stride to Quintana, who moved the middle toward the sideline, turned up field at the 30 and did the rest on a 48-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Tiner’s extra point gave the Indians a 7-0 lead with 1:53 remaining in the first period.
Pennington’s return set up the Panthers at their own 32, and he took the first-down carry for eight yards.
Elko senior Riley Hooper made a stop at the line of scrimmage, but Pennington moved the chains with some tough running to the 45.
Claiborne connected with junior Kellen Franklin over the middle all the way to the Elko 33.
Senior Carl Hansen dropped Claiborne at the line of scrimmage.
Hansen then dislodged the football from Pennington, the loose ball collected by Elko senior Ronin Rowley – ending a positive North Valleys march.
From the Elko 36, Tiner broke off 20 yards to the North Valleys 44 – an extra 15 yards tacked on for a facemask penalty.
He then bulled his way for six yards, absorbing more contact and knifing his way for a 23-yard touchdown on second down.
Tiner booted the PAT for a 14-0 lead with 10:53 on the clock in the second quarter.
The Panthers were swarmed by Elko pressure, Hansen and sophomore Gage Steilman combining for a loss on first down and the entire Elko line dropping the hammer on second down.
Elko dodged a bullet on a deep pass that was deflected over the top but could not be hauled in by the other receiver, who had nothing but green in front of him on third down.
North Valleys punted to midfield.
The Indians went nowhere and their punt was blocked, the Panthers starting their drive where Elko just started and ended its own.
Elko senior Landon Dente made some big plays on second and third down, nailing a receiver as the ball arrived on a pass down the field and smelling out a bubble screen for a loss.
North Valleys made a big specials team play with a line-drive kick that was pinned down at the Elko 4.
The Indians began a back-breaking drive.
On second down, Quintana moved the ball for seven yards to the 15 and Jones set the edge with a great block on the outside – allowing Quintana to run to the 26.
Jones then took a toss in motion, stuck his foot in the ground and cut up the field for a 17-yard gain across the 43.
Quintana took the next carry left to midfield.
On 3rd-and-4, Quintana took a cross-buck left for a first down near the North Tahoe 40.
Tiner used patience for a seven-yard gain, and Jones packed the rock to the 27 for a first down.
Chewing up yards and clock, Tiner went for five yards.
Elko lined up and gave the ball to Quintana, followed by another first-down run rush by Tiner to the 9.
With less than 1:30 on the clock, Tiner maneuvered to the Panthers’ 5.
A half-the-distance penalty moved the ball to the 1, and Alvarado took the snap and pushed across the goal line – the entire drive coming without a single passing yard.
Tiner’s extra point gave the Indians a 21-0 lead with 32 seconds remaining in the half.
“That drive was huge. We had the ball for most of the second quarter and went down the field. That was a 12-play drive that went 96 yards,” said Elko coach Luke Sellers. “That gave us a three-score lead. Getting the points right before halftime was big.”
To start the third quarter, Claiborne threw to Franklin across the middle for 13 yards to the 48-yard line.
A near-pick for Elko was dropped, but Hooper and Hansen stuck Claiborne on third down following quick penetration by junior Rolo Acosta.
On 2nd-and-short from the Elko 31, Alvarado unleashed a frozen rope down the field and dropped the ball into Jones’ hands on the fly for a 44-yard completion to inside the North Valleys 15.
The drive ended on the next play, Elko putting the ball on the carpet and losing a fumble at the 3-yard line.
Another near Elko interception was dropped with a touchdown in sight after a desperation throw under high heat from Rowley on the edge.
Quintana came forward and dropped the smack-down at the 5, a penalty pushing the Panthers back to the shadows of their own end zone at the 1.
Meza caused another major collision as the 5, and a pass to the flat was thwarted on a hit by senior Casey Bruns.
The Indians took control after a punt to the 33.
Tiner took the ball to the 28, and Jones rushed to the 25 – Tiner absorbing a major lick for a first down.
He took the next carry, and Quintana gave the Panthers a little razzle-dazzle – spinning and leaving North Valleys defenders grabbing at air from the ground for a 22-yard touchdown.
The extra point was pulled wide-right, Elko on top 27-0 with 5:50 remaining in the third.
Claiborne executed a ball fake to perfection and carried the ball to the Elko 48, followed by a rush by Pennington to the 34.
A pass to Jones was completed through traffic to the 19, and Elko jumped offside on fourth down – leaving the Panthers two yards short of the line to gain.
Pennington packed the ball to the Elko 6 for a first down.
Claiborne pulled the handoff back and sliced through a gap for a six-yard touchdown, and the extra point was partially blocked but found its way through the uprights.
The Panthers pulled to within 20 at 27-7 with 1:43 remaining in the third, but North Valleys was held scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Quintana set up the Indians in great field position with a return across midfield.
Jones exploded for a 43-yard run on a pitch to the North Valleys 6.
Junior Cameron Marvel finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown with three seconds on the clock.
The PAT was blocked.
Neither team posted points in the fourth quarter, and Elko cruised to a 33-6 victory.
“I thought the defense played very well. We wanted to take away the run with their quarterback and he only got loose a couple times – once against our No. 2s. We gave up a couple big plays in the passing game, but we wanted to make them beat us by making them throw it,” Sellers said. “Offensively, we ran the ball well and Carter made some nice throws when we passed it. Cameron Marvel and Casey Bruns did a good job of giving our running backs some breathers in spots. We had a couple kids get banged up. It was pretty lonely on the sideline; we only had 26 players total.”
Elko remains perfect on the season with a 3-0 record, dropping North Valleys to 1-2.
The Indians will return home and take on Sparks (2-1) at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.