Wolverines blank Buckaroos, hand Lowry first loss of season
The Truckee football team put together their best performance of the season under the temporary lighting at Surprise Stadium.
With the stands packed for Friday night’s game against Lowry, the Wolverines handed the Buckaroos their first loss of the season in a physical, hard-hitting 14-0 contest.
“Last week against Fallon, we didn’t get the win, but I think we stepped up as a team that week,” said senior George Skaff. “We knew if we wanted to come out and beat Lowry, who was 4-0, that we would have to focus up in practice and just come out here and be in a fist-fight all game. We came out here with the mentality that it was going to be a hard-fought game.”
Skaff hauled in the first touchdown of the game, breaking a 0-0 tie with 22 seconds left in the half on a 14-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jackson Kahl.
“Coach drew up this beautiful play and Kahl and I were talking about it all week, just really excited for it,” said Skaff, who led Truckee with three receptions for 50 yards. “I ran over and I saw the outside backer barrel out and I knew right then it was going to be a touchdown.”
The touchdown capped off a first half in which the teams exchanged turnovers twice, including an interception by senior Tyler Estabrook that set up Truckee’s drive before halftime.
The Wolverines opened the second half by driving deep into Buckaroos territory, but had the possession spoiled by an interception in the end zone on a third-and-long play.
After forcing a punt, the Wolverines offense took over at their 39-yard line, and drove the ball into the Buckaroos red zone. Senior running back Deacon Mehler capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run up the middle. Mehler briefly lost the ball as he crossed the goal line, but was able to dive on it in the end zone for the score. Mehler led Truckee’s rushing attack with 15 carries for 100 yards.
Sophomore kicker Jairo Zarate knocked through his second extra-point attempt of the night to give Truckee a 14-0 lead.
The Wolverines had a chance to blow the game open after recovering a Lowry fumble on the Buckaroo’s next drive, but a third-and-long trick play resulted in another interception. After forcing a Lowry punt, the Wolverines again turned the ball over on a fumble.
“I knew it going to be tough offensively because their defense is really strong, but we made it harder on ourselves with the penalties and turnovers late,” said Head Coach Josh Ivens. “Ultimately, we’ve got a young group, but they’re gritty, and they play with a lot of heart and emotion. If anyone has been watching us since Bear River until now, we’ve made huge strides each week.”
Truckee also had a touchdown run called back due to holding.
After the fumble, Truckee’s defense, led by senior Mason Cutler, rose to the occasion one final time with a second-down sack to force a third and long that Lowry wouldn’t be able to convert. From there, the Wolverines were able to drain the final minutes off the clock.
“We knew they had a physical front,” said Cutler, who had 2.5 sacks, including one to start the second quarter that derailed a Buckaroos drive. “We put more people in the box, we knew we had to be physical, and we ended up getting it done.”
Part of the key to Truckee’s victory was slowing Lowry junior running back Anthony Peterson. In his first three Northern League games, Peterson had averaged 204 rushing yards per game. The Wolverines defense limited the 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound back to 60 yards rushing on the evening.
“It takes more than one guy to bring him down,” said Cutler. “We put some big hits on him, and made him not want to run it any more. That was really the key.”
Lowry was also hindered by the loss of senior quarterback Chance Huitt, who went out with an injury in the first half.
“It’s unfortunate to see someone go down,” said Cutler. “I think that really hurt them.”
Offensively, Kahl finished the game 8 of 17 through the air for 102 yards, a touchdown, and a pair of interceptions. Estabrook caught a pair of passes for 20 yards, and had 60 rushing yards on 11 carries. As a team, the Wolverines piled up 245 yards on the ground.
Defensively, junior Micah Ivens posted a team-high 12 tackles. Junior Dillon Kane had 11 tackles, and senior Dayton Broad had 10 tackles. Junior Finn Loper had 1.5 sacks and a trio of quarterback hurries.
“A really good job by the defensive coordinator Mike Healey,” said Ivens. “He put together a really good game plan, and mixed it up enough to stop them.”
Truckee (2-3, 2-2 Northern League) is undefeated at Surprise Stadium so far this season.
“It’s not a joke that it’s hard to win at Surprise Stadium. It’s hard to win here. We’ve got a home field advantage and when you put the lights on, it just gets everybody more excited,” said Ivens.
“We want permanent lights here. There’s people here that don’t come to the Saturday games, and the student body — it’s just cool to see.”
Ivens said funding is the primary obstacle to overcome in getting lights at the field.
Moving ahead, Truckee’s varsity team will get a week off from competition due to Dayton having to drop football this season. The Wolverines sophomore and freshmen players will head to Wooster next week to play the Colts’ junior varsity team.
The varsity team will hit the road for their next game on Friday, Oct. 4, at Elko (4-0, 3-0 Northern League). The Indians edged Sparks on the road, 14-12, on Friday.
“We’ve got a road game against Elko and they’re not a team to sleep on this year,” said Skaff. “We’ve got to keep our heads up and keep on pounding.”
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Temperatures will remain sunny in Truckee through the work week, though the chance of snow remains in the forecast for the weekend.