Playoff football: Truckee blows out Bulldogs to advance to state
Sierra Sun sports editor
TRUCKEE (Nov. 13)” Knowing his team trailed the Truckee Wolverines 28-0 at halftime of the 3A state semifinal game was enough of a harsh reality for Virgin Valley head coach Kirk Hafen.
But when Hafen was informed Truckee quarterback Paul Tierney had completed every one of his 14 pass attempts in the first half, it was a stark indicator that it was not his Bulldogs’ day.
“You just look at the teams, and Truckee was a lot stronger and faster,” Hafen said. “There’s not a lot you can do sometimes. We were just overmatched.”
Tierney, who was a junior when Truckee lost to Virgin Valley in the 2003 3A state semifinals, helped the Wolverines (9-1 overall) and his fellow seniors avenge that loss by bashing the Bulldogs 42-0 at Surprise Stadium on Saturday.
With the win, Truckee advances to the state championship game next weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to play Moapa Valley, which shut out Spring Creek 31-0 on Saturday. The game is Saturday, Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. (this changed from the original scheduled time of 6 p.m.).
“They both have speed, and they’re both physical up front,” said Hafen, whose squad lost to both teams this season. “It’s going to be a good matchup. (Moapa’s) got some kids with quite a bit of speed and the potential to break.”
Tierney was a perfect 14-of-14 for 178 yards in the first half ” two of those completions were touchdowns to Brandon Peterson. Tierney finished 18-of-23 for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the game and is now second all-time on the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) career passing yardage list with 4,380.
“Paul was clicking all day,” said Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer. “We’ve come to expect so much out of him it’s unbelievable.”
Before the game, Tierney said he had been thinking about last year’s loss for a whole year, and he played like he didn’t want to relive the feeling. Tierney’s first pass of the second half fell incomplete, but he proceeded to complete the next four to start the game 18-of-19. Tierney has thrown 22 touchdown passes next to two interceptions in 2004.
“He would be right up there in the top five (quarterbacks) I’ve seen in my career,” said Hafen, who has commanded Virgin Valley for 14 years. “It’s hard for me to say (the particular things he does well) just watching one game, but all I know is he kicked our butt. Although it’s not all the quarterback; he’s got time, and he has some receivers that are phenomenal out here.”
With the strength of his passing game, Shaffer took advantage of the attention Virgin Valley was giving Truckee’s No. 1 receiver, Jamie Maehler.
“Sometimes when he was wing back they had three guys on him,” Shaffer said of Virgin Valley’s excessive coverage of Maehler. “This year, we’ve been able to take advantage of teams trying to shut him down. The thing that’s nice about him and Paul is they realize for us to win a state championship, we can’t be selfish.”
Peterson was the receiver on this day that shined while Maehler was monitored heavily by the Bulldogs. Peterson had four catches ” three for touchdowns ” for 98 yards. Truckee took a 7-0 lead with 6:43 remaining in the first quarter as Peterson leaped up and brought down a floater on a fade route from Tierney in the corner of the end zone.
After each team had punted on their opening drives, it took Truckee 9 plays to march 76 yards in 3 minutes. Tierney had five completions for first downs on the drive on a succession of out passes that attacked the sidelines.
Virgin Valley squandered its most opportune chance to score with 2:08 remaining in the first quarter. Maehler, also the Truckee punter, bobbled a fourth-down snap which he recovered, but the play gave Virgin Valley a net gain of 18 yards and the ball on the Truckee 29.
Brock Francis rushed for 5 yards on the first play, but the play was canceled out by a false start penalty on second down. The Truckee defense clamped down, forcing an incomplete pass and a Francis run for no gain. Virgin Valley went for it on fourth-and-10, and Jimmy Williams tackled Francis in the flat for a pass for no gain and Truckee held.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Hafen in reference to the false start. “We never did get any momentum going.” Virgin Valley, which failed to discover a rhythm in the running or passing game, would go on to turn the ball over on downs five times in the game.
The Bulldogs trailed only 7-0 after the first quarter, but on the second play of the second quarter, Tierney hit Peterson on an out pattern; Peterson shed a tackle and raced down the left sideline 41 yards to give Truckee a 14-0 cushion.
The Wolverines’ next drive was a 9-play, 59-yard drive that concluded with running back Nick Cabral’s six-yard touchdown run. Following a bad snap on a punt that gave Truckee the ball on the Virgin Valley 39, a 21-yard screen pass to Micah Carbajal set up another Cabral touchdown from four yards out to give Truckee a 28-0 halftime lead.
Despite heavy coverage, Maehler caught six passes for 64 yards (Tierney and Maehler have now connected for 100 receptions in two seasons) and scored Truckee’s final touchdown on a 18-yard double handoff. Shaffer attacked Virgin Valley’s aggressive defensive scheme.
“They put a lot of guys in the box and they’re bringing linebackers all the time, so we tried to take advantage of that,” Shaffer said. “I don’t know how many yards running we had, but it probably wasn’t a whole lot. We could have passed all day.”
Led by Carbajal’s 48 yards rushing ” and a fake punt late in the game in which linebacker Jimmy Williams took a direct snap and rumbled 32 yards ” Truckee had 187 yards on the ground, but it was Tierney’s arm that did in the Bulldogs. Gordon Neelands added four catches for 57 yards.
Tierney and Maehler led a solid junior class last year, but Hafen saw a honed Truckee senior class in 2004.
“They had a year of maturity, and they spent a lot of time in the weight room; they’re a good team,” he said.
Hafen said he had one returning starter ” Todd Allen, who caught five passes for 28 yards on Saturday ” from a 2003 Virgin Valley squad that lost to Bishop Manogue, 42-26, in the 3A state championship game. Manogue moved up to the 4A this season.
The Wolverines defense held Virgin Valley (8-4 overall) to 109 total yards. Williams, Kyle Steverman and Denver Schaffarzick had sacks for Truckee.
For Shaffer and his crew, the win was convincing and redeeming, but he knows the biggest challenge lies ahead against a Moapa team that is now 11-1 on the season.
“It’s always nice, 365 days later, to beat the team that knocked you out the year before,” he said. “But right now, that was just another road block that was in our way to get to where we want to get to.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
When he participated as a mentor for the SOS Outreach program for the first time last year, Crew Stover had few expectations. He finished the first day of skiing at Northstar with his group of…