Different week, same result.
And for the third time in four years, the Fallon football team advanced to the Division I-A state semifinals.
The Greenwave (10-1) rolled past visiting Lowry, 34-6, on the legs of senior Nathan Heck and will battle Desert Pines (10-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Fallon. Desert Pines slipped past defending state champ Faith Lutheran, 34-27, on Friday in Las Vegas.
Elko (9-1), who beat Fernley, 23-8, visits Moapa Valley (11-0) in the other semifinal on Saturday. The Pirates upended Sierra Vista, 46-26.
“We just have to advance at this point and our kids played good enough to do that,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said.
Heck, meanwhile, was a one-man scoring machine in the first quarter. After stopping the Buckaroos on a fake punt, Heck capped a six-play, 55-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
The stellar senior was just getting started.
Lowry drove 46 yards on its next possession, but quarterback Christian Gray made a costly mistake that shifted momentum to Fallon.
On second-and-goal at the Wave’s 6-yard line, Gray avoided linebacker Johnny Mayo and rolled to his right, but then came Fallon’s Evan Bitter to force a bad throw. Gray’s pass was picked off by Heck at the goal line and he somehow tip-toed his way down the sideline for a 100-yard return for a TD.
Fallon never looked back.
“I knew he was going to try and dump it away and I was where I needed to be,” Heck said.
“He (Gray) was trying to make a play and can’t fault him for that,” Lowry coach Tim Billingsley added. “We knew we were going to have to throw a little bit more. They are hard to block. They play good defense.”
Charles Fulks added a 3-yard TD run early in the second quarter to put the Wave up 20-0 after an interception by Fallon’s Aaron Bitter.
On Fallon’s second drive of the third quarter, it was all Heck minus a nifty 12-yard scramble by Fallon quarterback Joe Pyle to pick up a crucial first down.
Heck, though, tallied nine carries for 68 yards including a 4-yard score to all but seal the win. Fulks added his second TD in the fourth quarter.
Heck’s lone blemish was a controversial fumble in the fourth quarter after a 26-yard run. It appeared he was down and the ball popped out after he hit the ground, but the officials ruled a fumble and Lowry took over at its own 5.
Lowry, meanwhile, scored on the final play of the game when Gray hit Kyle Tarr for a 62-yard TD pass. Gray finished the game with 125 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
“We just prepared all week,” Mayo said. “We already knew what they were going to do. Playing them for the second (straight) week, it was a lot easier having played them already.”
The Buckaroos’ mistakes were too great to overcome. Their second drive of the game was fluid and highlighted by a 35-yard completion from Gray to Thomas Swartz.
But then came the pick-six.
Lowry’s opening drive in the third quarter used the Wildcat formation with running back Beau Billingsley as the “quarterback.” Starting on their own 31, the Buckaroos moved all the way to Fallon’s 7, but an errant snap went through Billingsley’s legs setting up fourth-and-20. Gray’s ensuing pass fell harmlessly out of bounds and gave the Wave the ball.
Lowry also had a trio of three-and-out series, giving Fallon the ball.
“We were pretty aggressive defensively,” Hill said. “We had some stops early and then Nate’s 100-yard interception return. They have a chance to tie it up 7-7 and then we are up 14-0.”
Fallon’s defense, meanwhile, shut down Lowry’s two-headed rushing attack of Billingsley and Donovan Brumm. The two backs combined for 88 yards on 28 carries, while the Buckaroos only ran for 104 yards as a team.
Fallon, meanwhile, ran for 263 yards including 66 yards from Fulks and another 43 from Pyle. Pyle also completed 8-of-15 passes for 112 yards.