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Indians host Buckaroos in rematch of close opener
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Indians host Buckaroos in rematch of close opener

Lincoln Ratliff

Elko's Lincoln Ratliff carries against Spring Creek on Friday, April 2, 2021, at Warrior Field. In the contest, Ratliff rushed for 148 yards on 25 carries and scored four touchdowns. The No. 5 Indians (2-3) will close the year with a Division 3A North-East postseason matchup versus No. 4 Lowry (2-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field. On March 13, the Buckaroos beat Elko 29-22 in the season opener for both teams.

ELKO — Well, the Elko football team is getting a postseason game after all.

Following No. 6 Dayton’s denial to travel to Warrior Field, No. 5 Elko (2-3) was obliged by No. 4 Lowry (2-3) — the Buckaroos making the trip despite possessing the higher seed and owning the head-to-head advantage over the Indians.

Kickoff for the Division 3A North-East playoff game is set for 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.

The contest will serve as a rematch of the season opener, when the hosting Bucks pulled out a 29-22 victory on March 6, in Winnemucca.

Elko actually moved the ball well in the contest — mainly on the ground — rushing for 290 yards as a team on 67 carries.

Senior Kaiden Cervantes racked up 247 yards on 53 totes — scoring a pair of touchdowns — and senior Lincoln Ratliff carried 10 times for 32 yards with a TD.

Ratliff completed 2-of-6 passes for 30 yards and successfully booted 3-for-3 extra points.

Senior Brig Johnson caught a 24-yard pass.

However, the Indians greatly hurt their chances of winning with three turnovers in the red zone.

Defensively, the Indians were led by six tackles from Johnson — one for a half-sack — and senior Shawn Sessions tallied five stops.

Junior Pete Romero and senior Dillan Burden added four tackles each.

Junior Andoni Fesenmaier recorded a sack — also forcing a fumble that was recovered by senior Gage Steilman — and junior Kason Lesbo added a half-sack.

Elko dominated the time of possession and ran approximately double the number of offensive plays as Lowry, but several of the Bucks’ snaps went for explosive plays.

Senior quarterback Caden Ricci tossed a 46-yard touchdown pass to senior Anthony Gildone, and junior Giovani Sapien made a 50-yard catch-and-run for a score on the Bucks’ next possession.

Lowry’s third score was set up by a 25-yard reception by Gildone and a 14-yard carry by senior running back Anthony Peterson — Gildone capping the drive with a one-yard grab on a play-action pass from Ricci.

The final score of the contest served as the difference maker, the Bucks turning a 22-21 deficit into an advantage with a house call on the ensuing kick.

Peterson broke free with a filthy jump cut and raced 70 yards to the house.

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After winning each of its first-two games, Lowry has dropped its last-three contests — falling 50-21 at home against Fernley, losing 30-29 in Spring Creek and getting pasted 49-13 at Fallon.

The Indians — on the other hand — have experienced success later in the year.

Following an 0-3 start, Elko has won each of its last-two games — starting the mini-winning streak with a 63-18 confidence builder on the road against Dayton.

Last week — in the regular-season finale — the Indians won a back-and-forth slugfest with Spring Creek by a final score of 38-37, the defense making a huge stop on a two-point conversion as the Spartans went for two and the win.

Elko did its damage on the ground, rolling up 418 yards rushing on 66 carries — averaging 6.3 yards attempt.

Cervantes ran for a career-high 249 yards on 37 carries with a touchdown, Ratliff rushing for 148 yards on 25 attempts with four TDs.

He also completed a 28-yard pass to Johnson.

Sessions was a beast defensively — leading the team with 10 tackles and nine solo stuffs — also notching the biggest stop of the game on the two-point conversion attempt.

Ratliff tallied nine tackles (seven solo), and junior Blaze Jones recorded eight solo tackles — Fesenmaier finishing with eight stops (four solo) as well.

Each of senior Manny Alvarado’s six tackles were solo efforts.

Junior Trapper Steilman tallied Elko’s lone sack.

Game Time

Kickoff between No. 5 Elko (2-3) and No. 4 Lowry (2-3) will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.

Follow Live

The contest will be broadcast online at and over the local radio at 95.9 FM and 1240 AM.

GALLERY: Spring Creek at Elko Football — First Half — April 2, 2021


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Related to this story

Elko football is back, but the Indians' season opener versus Lowry at 3 p.m. Saturday will take place in Winnemucca. The contest will be livestreamed at and audio is available online at or on the radio at 95.9 FM and 1240 AM.

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