Serving up a homemade beating
The Fernley Vaqueros took the field looking sharp, fired up and poised to upset the defending state champion Wolverines on their home turf. They left soundly beaten, in more ways than one.
“The defense was hitting real hard,” Truckee linebacker Paris Tenorio said in what borders on an understatement. “We all came together and we were hitting as hard as we could.”
That much was evident ” painfully so for the Vaqueros ” at Surprise Stadium in Truckee Saturday as the Wolverines routed Fernley 40-7, improving their record to 2-1 in league play and gaining confidence for the final stretch of the season.
And while any offense that posts 40 points deserves its due credit, the Wolverines’ hard-hitting defense, which Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer likened to past championship teams, merits first mention.
“Our defense came out in the first quarter and really started hitting people,” Shaffer said. “They (the Vaqueros) felt every one of those hits.”
Proving Shaffer’s surmise were Fernley receivers whose arms became increasingly alligator-like in length as the game progressed and the resounding pops accumulated.
“We played physically, the way Truckee teams have in the past,” Shaffer said.
Whatever the reasons, the Wolverines dominated the second half in all facets as if they were playing a different team than in the first, outscoring Fernley 26-0 while allowing the Vaqueros’ offense only 22 yards and two first downs.
But with Fernley drawing first blood, the game began with a different tone.
The Wolverines learned early that Fernley (1-3, 4-3) was not to be taken lightly, as the Vaqueros marched 45 yards down the field on their opening possession only to miss a field goal deep in Truckee territory.
After a Truckee punt the Vaqueros again marched down the field and found the end zone on a quarterback keeper from four yards out for the game’s initial score.
Led by the hard running of senior wingback Ben Tonon, Truckee bounced back with its own drive and scored on a 23-yard touchdown run by senior halfback Mike Lopez. Isreal Serna kicked the extra point.
The Wolverines’ next possession was cut short at the Fernley 15-yard line when a pass by Truckee quarterback Robert Jones was intercepted. The following Truckee possession was redeeming, however, as the Wolverines put together another drive that was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Tonon with about three minutes remaining in the second quarter. Serna kicked the extra point to bring the score to 14-7, Truckee.
That’s how the half ended, and the Wolverines were far from satisfied.
“We missed some opportunities in the first half,” said Lopez, who finished the game with 128 yards on 11 carries. “We’re kind of a slow-starting team.”
The second half was all Truckee.
“The second quarter is actually when we saw (Fernley) wear down,” Shaffer said. “Fortunately, in the second half the kids came out and didn’t let up. They really started dominating from the start of the third quarter.”
Ten plays and 79 yards into the third quarter Tonon scored his second touchdown of the day from the 4-yard line.
Following an interception by senior linebacker Matt Klesken late in the third quarter, Tonon steamrolled his way through tacklers from the 7-yard line to score his third touchdown.
Tonon was not done.
Early in the fourth quarter the 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound wingback returned a punt 73 yards for his fourth and final touchdown of the game.
With the score at 34-7, Tenorio intercepted a Fernley pass and returned it 37 yards for the final touchdown. The score: 40-7.
“We showed (Fernley) that we wanted to win,” said Tony Brown, a 6-foot-3-inch, 265-pound offensive and defensive tackle. “That was Truckee football right there.”