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.
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.
Kickoff between No. 5 Elko (2-3) and No. 4 Lowry (2-3) will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, at Warrior Field.
The contest will be broadcast online at network1sports.com and over the local radio at 95.9 FM and 1240 AM.
GALLERY: Spring Creek at Elko Football — First Half — April 2, 2021