Truckee football thumps Fernley
The Truckee High football team wore down Fernley with stout defense and a relentless rushing attack to earn a soggy 21-7 Northern 3A win Saturday afternoon.
In front of a large home crowd and sizable Fernley contingent that toughed out a periodic drizzle, the Wolverines controlled possession with a pounding running game that ate clock while effectively keeping the Vaqueros’ defense on the field and their offense watching from the sideline.
No one in attendance could complain about the entertainment value. The rival matchup between the top two Northern teams was full of hard hits – many delivered by Truckee linebacker Ryan Macken – momentum swings, hard-nosed defense and a spattering of well-executed offense.
For Truckee (2-0 league, 3-2 overall), the win helped ease the pain still felt from last year’s 28-27 loss to Fernley in the first round of the postseason.
“We talked all week about not only getting the win for Truckee High School, but also about getting redemption for the Truckee seniors last year,” said head coach Bob Shaffer. “We were kind of double motivated.”
Jeff Knutson, head coach of the Vaqueros (2-1, 2-4), was encouraged by a Fernley-controlled third quarter but was disappointed overall with his team’s effort.
“The second half was pretty good; the first half was absolutely horrible,” Knutson said. “We dug ourselves a hole by not playing well. We were not ready to play. I don’t know if we were nervous or what, but Truckee was the better team today, especially in the first half.”
The Wolverines limited Fernley’s junior quarterback Bryce Baker and his offense to 34 yards of total offense and one first down in the opening half – the Vaqueros settled with 163 yards total – and carried a 14-0 lead into the break.
Baker and junior running back Mike Kendricks carried the load rushing but combined for just 96 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in the game.
Meanwhile, nine different Wolverines ran for 217 yards and two TDs on 46 rushes, with senior Robert Raber leading the pack with 76 yards on 10 carries.
“We’ve always had that philosophy. We’ve never given it to just one guy and asked him to rush for 1,800 yards,” said Shaffer, whose team passed just once in the second half. “We use a staple of six or seven (or more) guys.”
Yet Truckee went with its seldom-used passing game to strike first after a scoreless opening quarter.
Senior quarterback Justin Vosburgh, who finished 4 of 8 for 47 yards and no interceptions, floated a ball from 10 yards out to junior Mike Fagan, who spun away from his defender and hauled in the pass in the back of the end zone. Vosburgh kicked in the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Junior wingback Vince Shaffer extended the lead to 14-0 with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter, running straight ahead for a 4-yard touchdown run that capped a 56-yard drive.
Fernley emerged from the half with an inspired look and went to work on its opening drive. With a combination of run and pass plays, the Vaqueros pieced together a 79-yard, 10-play drive that culminated with a 23-yard touchdown run by Baker to tighten the score at 14-7.
The Wolverines responded with a drive of their own that petered out at the Fernley 5-yard line, as the Vaqueros stuffed Truckee rushers for no gain on three straight plays to take over on downs.
Back on the move, Baker hooked up with junior receiver Justin Brashear for a 13-yard gain before Truckee junior Travis Dwyer stepped in front of a pass and intercepted it at the Fernley 38-yard line.
Five running plays later junior halfback Jordan Deiro punched through the goal line from 6 yards out to give the Wolverines a 21-7 lead with 9:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Momentum was back on the home team’s side.
The Vaqueros fought back, however, driving to the Truckee 48-yard line on their next possession before turning the ball over on downs. In the final minutes of desperation, Truckee junior Jackson Weed picked off a tipped pass, and Vosburgh took a knee four plays later to run out the clock.
“They came out and played hard, but I think we wanted it more,” said Macken, who made a number of crunching hits in the game, several for losses. “Everyone knows what happened last year, and we wanted to put a stop to that.”
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As seniors from North Tahoe collected diplomas this week, a group of Lakers continued another local tradition — capturing first place at the boys’ regional golf championship.