ELKO, Nev. — The Elko football team was able to exorcise some demons Friday night — or at least exorcise some Wolverines.
The Indians thumped Truckee 48-14 for their first win over the Wolverines since joining the Northern I-A. The Tribe did most of its damage on the ground as running backs David Jackson and Jason Wilson ran for 204 and 179 yards, respectively.
“We’re just consistent with going with what works,” Elko coach Luke Sellers said about his team’s running attack. “We’re not trying to reinvent anything. Our offensive line did a good job and our defense did a good job.”
It did not take long for Elko to make a statement in this contest. After dismissing the Truckee offense with a three-and-out series, the Indians’ offense needed one play to get on the scoreboard. Wilson went up the middle for an 81-yard score with 10:52 left in the first quarter.
The Tribe was just getting started. The defense held on a fourth-and-1 attempt by the Wolverines to get the ball on downs at the Truckee 33. Six plays later, Jackson was in the end zone on a 6-yard run.
The Wolverines still struggled to get their offense going on their third drive as they once again failed to convert a first down.
“We came out like gangbusters and it seemed to take them a little bit to get going,” Sellers said.
On its ensuing possession, Elko got the ball back on its 29-yard line. Wilson picked up a yard on first down, and the next handoff went to Jackson for a 70-yard run to paydirt.
The Wolverines were finally able to answer. On second-and-18 from their own 39, the team pulled out a double handoff, and Tanner Sawyer went 61 yards to the end zone.
As good as the Elko offense looked in the first quarter, it sputtered in the second quarter, in part due to turnovers. Tribe quarterback Connor Altenburg was credited with a pair of fumbles on backward passes — the first went to the ground in front of the intended receiver and the second went through the target’s hands. Truckee recovered both miscues.
“I was not real happy with the way we threw the ball and caught the ball,” Sellers said. “We’ve got to do better at that.”
After the first Elko turnover, the Wolverines gave it right back on first down when receiver Eli Delauney caught a pass from Louden Smith, but fumbled the ball fighting for extra yards. Elko’s Cody Nielsen recovered the ball and took it to the Truckee 35.
The Indians could not capitalize on the short field, but the Wolverines coughed up the ball once again on their next series. This time the Tribe’s defense did not give the ball to the offense as Elko’s Juan Meza scooped up the fumble and went 30 yards for the score.
The Indians committed their third turnover of the game on their opening drive of the second half when Altenburg’s pass went off the hands of intended receiver James Carter and was intercepted by Smith.
The Wolverines scored on the turnover as Smith hit Austin Vance for a two-yard scoring strike.
The Wolverines forced an Elko punt, but they fumbled the punt return. Elko’s Lalo Palofox made the recovery.
The Indians cashed in as Wilson slipped two tackles on an 11-yard scamper to the end zone.
The Wolverines coughed up another fumble that Elko capitalized on. This time it was Altenburg cutting to his left and going 15 yards for the score.
The Tribe iced the game with a 56-yard touchdown run on its next possession by Jackson.
“We need to turn the page and keep getting better,” Sellers said. “We (play) two of the best teams in the state the next two weeks.”
The Indians, who are 3-0, travel to Fallon next week and host Lowry in two weeks. Those outcomes could go a long way in determining the team’s postseason plans.
Truckee (0-3) plays at Sparks (0-3) next Friday at 7 p.m.