Warriors secure at least third place in Northern 2A League | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors secure at least third place in Northern 2A League

Steve Yingling

ZEPHYR COVE – Rite of Passage had the momentum and an upset of Whittell High School on its radar midway through the third quarter on Friday night.

But as Nevada 2A football teams are learning, stopping the Warriors’ offense is akin to draining a swimming pool with a coffee cup. Whittell scored on five straight possessions after the Rams threatened to pull even to notch an overwhelming 61-26 win in their final regular-season game Friday.

With the win, Whittell (6-2) clinched at least third place in the Northern 2A League and will have two weeks to prepare for a Nov. 8 playoff game at Battle Mountain. For the Warriors, the playoff berth is only the school’s third since 1996 and their first winning season since 2000.

“It shows how much we’ve worked, and how hard we’ve tried, like climbing Job’s Peak,” said senior receiver Ian Allen, who caught two touchdown passes. “Everything we’ve done as a team. It means so much to me because we’ve tried so hard and now we’re getting paid off for it.”

Junior running back Philip Gielow rushed for three touchdowns and senior quarterback Roberto Concha-Foley passed for three scores and ran for another as the Warriors turned the tables on ROP, which won 50-28 last year.

Whittell hurt ROP in a variety of ways as Rio DeLucia picked off three passes and returned one 100 yards for a score, Allen topped 100 receiving yards and senior tight end Cody Reed reached the end zone for the first time in his high school career.

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“Senior year, it means everything,” Reed said. “That’s another thing I’ve imagined since my freshman year – to have the best season my senior year.”

Whittell, however, realized it was in a battle midway through the third quarter. Clinging to a 28-20 lead and two-way star Cody Nelson on the sidelines with a separated shoulder, the Warriors’ offense began to sputter. ROP capitalized by sacking Concha-Foley for a 19-yard loss, taking possession at midfield. A fourth-down pass interference penalty upset a huge Whittell crowd and gave the Rams a first down on the 34. But Whittell’s defense dug in, denying the Rams a first down by half a yard on a fourth-down rush by Laron Moore.

“Against a team like Whittell, you’ve got to take your shots when you get them,” said ROP coach Jerry Grimshaw.

The defensive stand seemed to ignite the Warriors’ offense. Following an incomplete pass, Concha-Foley hooked up with Reed for a 76-yard scoring play along the sideline. There was no denying Reed the end zone as he stiff-armed his closest pursuer at the 20 and then sweated out a penalty flag that was thrown as he neared the goal line.

“I saw the flag, but I couldn’t put my hands through my hair, but it was like, ‘Oh my god,'” Reed said. “But then it was good.”

Whittell coach David Atherton said the timing couldn’t have been better for Reed to find the end zone.

“Now he has that confidence for the playoffs that he’s a threat,” Atherton said.

ROP (4-3) quickly got the score back as Andre Wright returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Whittell stopped the two-point try for a 34-26 lead.

The Warriors responded with a nine-play drive covering 60 yards. Gielow capped the four-minute clock eater with an eight-yard touchdown run, and DeLucia’s kick made it 41-26. DeLucia’s third interception set up a 59-yard TD reception by Allen. Gielow and Ricky Henry added fourth-quarter scoring runs to put the Rams helplessly behind.

ROP, which scored twice in the final 1:25 of the first half, was unable to score after intermission, aside from the special teams TD .

“We made some adjustments on our defense and lined up in a different formation,” Gielow said. “We’re just really good at getting fired up when we’re down. We don’t like to be down. It just makes us angry, and the way to play defense is hot-headed and running around looking to make hard hits.”

Whittell, which has four shutout wins this season, has yet to give up more than 28 points.

“It was ridiculous. I can’t believe we let them score that many points, but we were determined not to let that happen in the second half,” Allen said.

Concha-Foley, playing his final regular-season home game, again put up some dazzling numbers. He passed for 235 yards and rushed 17 times for 89 yards, including a 29-yard TD on his first carry.

Atherton said that bye week should allow Nelson to be ready for the playoff game. Backup running back Jordan Morgan injured a knee in the second half and his status for the rest of the season is unknown.

WHITTELL 61, RITE OF PASSAGE 26

ROP 6 14 6 0 – 26

Whittell 22 6 20 13 – 61

First quarter

W-Concha-Foley 29 run (kick failed)

ROP-Robinson fell on fumble in end zone (pass failed)

W-Gielow 1 run (Morgan run)

W-Allen 5 pass from Concha-Foley (Gielow run)

Second quarter

W-DeLucia 100 interception return (run failed)

ROP-Hollis 18 fumble return (pass failed)

ROP-Moore 26 run (run failed)

Third quarter

W-Reed 76 pass from Concha-Foley (run failed)

ROP-Wright 99 kickoff return (run failed)

W-Gielow 8 run (DeLucia kick)

W-Allen 59 pass from Concha-Foley (DeLucia kick)

Fourth quarter

W-Gielow 15 run (DeLucia kick)

W-Henry 3 run (kick failed)

Individual stats

Rushing: ROP, Moore 19-86, Harvey 1-4, Bashaw 3-(-11), Team 2-(-20). Whittell, Gielow 11-91, Concha-Foley 17-89, Morgan 7-22, Nelson 3-9, Henry 2-9.

Passing (completions-attempts-interceptions-total yards): ROP, Bashaw 11-19-2-127, Wright 2-13-1-30. Whittell, Concha-Foley 9-20-0-235.

Receptions: ROP, Barnett 8-120, Henderson 2-25, Pitts 1-7, Robinson 2-5. Whittell, Allen 4-102, DeLucia 3-48, Reed 2-85.

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