WINNEMUCCA, Nev. — One fall night in Winnemucca may have made up for years of disappointment for the Lowry High School football team.
From a last-second loss in the 1990 state championship, to not-so-close defeats in the last 20 years, the Buckaroos erased all of their demons against Truckee on Friday night at Jerry Tobin Field.
The tone was set quickly, as Lowry used a five-minute drive on its opening possession to score and the rout was in the Buckaroos’ 48-0 victory.
It was just the second loss since 2009 for the Wolverines, who have won the last four Division I-A state championships. It was the first-ever victory for the Buckaroos over the Wolverines.
Lowry used a smash-mouth style of football on the initial drive of the night, running the ball nine times on the 79-yard drive, with quarterback Calvin Connors scoring on a 5-yard run with 7:50 left in the first quarter.
The first sign of it being Lowry’s night was on the extra point. A bad snap on the kick bounced in the hands of Connors, who found a wide open Robert Stepper for the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.
It was just the opposite for Truckee, as its first play of the night was a disaster with the ball being snapped over the head of quarterback Louden Smith for a loss of 18 yards. That all but killed the drive as the Wolverines were forced to punt.
With the ball at midfield, it took just over three minutes for the Buckaroos to increase the advantage. Aided by a face mask penalty on Truckee, Lowry continued to pound the ball on the ground against the Wolverine defense, which lost all 11 starters from a year ago.
Beau Billingsley finished off the drive with a 5-yard run to put the Buckaroos up 15-0.
After a disastrous beginning to the night, Truckee produced one of its best drives of the night behind the arm of Smith. The senior drove the Wolverines inside the Buckaroos’ 20-yard line with a chance to cut the margin in half. However, the momentum changed for good when Connors intercepted Smith at the goal line and returned the interception to the Truckee 15-yard line.
On the next play, senior running back Brandon Okuma scampered through the Truckee defense for a 21-0 lead with 10:53 left in the second quarter.
It went from bad to worse for the Wolverines, who fumbled on its next possession, giving Lowry the ball in excellent field position. However, the Buckaroos made one of their few mistakes on the night, handing the ball back over to the Wolverines at the 2-yard line on a fumble.
Truckee’s offense stalled out on the next two drives, leading to 14 more points for Lowry in the final five minutes of the first half. The Buckaroos made the score 28-0 on a 45-yard run by Okuma and two minutes later were back on the scoreboard.
Connors used a long punt return to position Lowry at the Truckee 28-yard line and Connors closed out the drive with a 9-yard run for a 35-0 lead at halftime.
A stalled drive by the Buckaroos and a missed 49-yard field goal from the Wolverines began the first nine minutes of the third quarter. After using a punishing run game for most of the night, Lowry went to the air for one of the few times, with Connors connecting on a 45-yard pass play to Billingsley to kick-start an 80-yard drive. Two plays later, Connors scored his third touchdown of the night on a 21-yard run for a 41-0 lead. Lowry threw just five passes on the night, with Connors completing four of them for 85 yards.
The Buckaroos ran for more than 350 yards on the ground, with Billingsley and Okuma running for more than 140 apiece.
It didn’t get much better for Truckee, as Lowry scored 90 seconds later as Connors scooped up a Wolverine fumble for a 15-yard touchdown and a 48-0 lead. The game was played with a running clock for the final 11 minutes, with subs in for both squads.