Truckee football | Wolverines narrowly defeat Lowry |

Truckee football | Wolverines narrowly defeat Lowry

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Sylas Wright/Sierra SunColin Christian finds room to run during Truckee's 22-16 win against Lowry on Saturday. Christian led the Truckee running game with 93 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Win No. 8 was not pretty.

On a wet and sloppy day at Surprise Stadium on Saturday, the defending state champs fumbled the ball six times while falling behind twice in a first half controlled by visiting Lowry.

Faced with a rare 16-13 deficit at the half, Truckee buckled down on defense the final two quarters as its offense did just enough to escape with a 22-16 victory.

and#8220;We’ve been gearing up for Truckee all year, and I think we came out in the first half and shocked them a little bit,and#8221; said Lowry head coach Tim Billinglsey, whose Buckaroos dropped to fourth place in the Northern 3A standings, at 4-3. and#8220;These guys (the Wolverines) have been beating guys soundly all year. But we thought that if we played good, we had a good shot.and#8221;

The result was hardly expected from the Truckee side, as the undefeated Wolverines (8-0) had defeated opponents by a collective score of 322-14 in seven wins entering the game.

and#8220;That was terrible,and#8221; said junior running back/linebacker Cole Roberts. and#8220;Way too close. The wetness made a big difference, causing all the turnovers. Our offense couldn’t stay on the field.and#8221;

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The weather played a major role, indeed, as an increasingly steady rain made footing difficult and the football slippery. And it showed. The Buckaroos lost all three of their fumbles in the game while the Wolverines fumbled six times and#8211; five in the second half and#8211; and lost three.

Truckee quarterback Ben Bolton also threw an interception, and running back Colin Christian slipped behind the Truckee goal line for a safety. In the second half, the Wolverines fumbled on five of their seven possessions, losing two of them inside the Lowry 25-yard line, one at the 2.

And yet, it was the Wolverines who should have been more accustomed to the nasty conditions, said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer.

and#8220;The weather was the same for both of us. We should be able to play in it,and#8221; Shaffer said. and#8220;These guys grew up playing in this kind of weather.and#8221;

Jace Billingsley did most of the damage against the Wolverines in the first half, helping his team control possession with 42 offensive plays to Truckee’s 14. The junior running back/linebacker rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while intercepting a Bolton pass. He finished with a game-high 109 yards on 31 carries after Truckee held him to just 10 yards in the second half.

The game started in typical fashion for the Wolverines, as Truckee recovered a fumble by Billingsley on the first play, and Bolton promptly hooked up with tight end James DePew in the corner of the end zone one play later for a 7-yard touchdown and#8211; just 16 seconds into the contest.

Things would not be so easy after that.

After holding the Buckaroos out of the end zone following a Gus Duncan kick return all the way to the Truckee 6-yard line, Christian’s feet slipped out from under him at his own goal line when he tried to make a cut behind the line of scrimmage, adjusting the score to 7-2.

Truckee received a break when Duncan fumbled the return after the safety, but Bolton returned the favor when he overthrew his receiver three plays later for a pick.

Starting from their own 40, the Buckaroos then drove straight down the field and into the end zone on a 7-yard Billingsley run. After a missed kick, they led 8-7.

The Wolverines answered two possessions later when senior fullback/linebacker Morgan Nevin caught a short pass and followed his blockers 56 yards for a touchdown. A missed conversion left Truckee in front, 13-8.

Lowry again had an answer and#8211; a 13-play drive that culminated with a 5-yard play-action pass from quarterback Mitch Pollock to 6-foot-6, 235-pound tight end Sean Millikan. The score gave the Buckaroos a 16-13 lead with 11 seconds remaining in the half after Pollock and Millikan connected again for the two-point conversion.

and#8220;The first half we blocked well,and#8221; coach Billingsley said. and#8220;and#8230; Our line is pretty big, and I’m not sure they (the Wolverines) have matched up with anything like that.and#8221;

When the horn sounded at the end of the half and the Wolverines’ fight song came on, AC/DC’s and#8220;T.N.T.,and#8221; the Buckaroos gathered at midfield and mocked Truckee by chanting the lyrics, and#8220;Oi, Oi, Oi, Oi,and#8221; before heading to the locker room.

But the celebration was premature.

Truckee marched down the field on the opening possession of the third quarter, capping a 63-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run by Christian in which the senior dragged defenders along the way. Christian had several similarly tough runs in the game and finished with a team-high 93 yards on 11 rushes.

and#8220;Colin really ran hard,and#8221; Shaffer said. and#8220;He refused to go down.and#8221;

It was up to the Truckee defense to hold the Buckaroos scoreless as its offense sputtered down the stretch with turnovers. After Christian’s TD, Truckee punted on its next possession, then punted again the following possession after losing yards on a fumble. The Wolverines then lost a fumble at midfield, lost another fumble at the Lowry 24, turned the ball over on downs at the Lowry 25 after a fumble, and lost yet another fumble at the Lowry 2.

and#8220;We turned the ball over too many times. But I don’t think too many people left early. They got their money’s worth today,and#8221; Shaffer said.

Truckee’s defense made up for the turnovers, as it held Lowry to just 34 yards of total offense in the second half after allowing 192 in the first. On Lowry’s final possession deep in Truckee territory, Wolverine defenders chased Millikan out of the back of his own end zone for a safety and a 22-16 lead.

and#8220;The most important thing we did in the second half was tackle,and#8221; Shaffer said. and#8220;The first half we couldn’t get the defense off the field.and#8221;