Lowry defeats South Tahoe 77-26
Special to the Tribune
WINNEMUCCA, Nev. – It has been nearly 11 months since the Lowry High School football team has set foot on hits home field for a game. The Buckaroos opened this season with two road wins at Battle Mountain and Wooster by a combined score of 118-13.
Despite a wind driven second quarter, which had a few raindrops in the clouds, Lowry looked impressive in front of its home crowd with a 77-26 win over South Tahoe (0-2 Northern 3A, 1-2 overall) on Friday night.
“There (South Tahoe) defense played pretty good at first and then we just kind of broke it open later like we have been,” said LHS head coach Tim Billingsley. “I don’t know if we wore them down or if we just started playing better.”
Lowry (1-0 Northern 3A, 3-0 overall) scored on four of its six possessions in the first half, with the two unsuccessful drives ending at the South Tahoe 10 and 2-yard, line, respectively. The Buckaroos scored on their initial drive of the night, capped off by a Jace Billingsley 11-yard run, four minutes into the game. Billingsley then added a second touchdown, in the first period, this time fro 37 yards out.
South Tahoe’s defense held on the Buckaroos’ next possession as a Michael Billingsley pass to Bryan Noble went long in the end zone on fourth down.
The Vikings drove down the field on its best possession of the first half but moments into the second quarter a 32-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Caro hit off the upright and bounced away.
With a mix of passing and running game, Lowry drove 80 yards after the missed field goal and capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run by Johnny Hernandez for a 21-0 lead with 6:54 left in the first half. The Buckaroos threw single digit passes in the first two games of the year but on Friday, Michael Billingsley was 9-of-14 passing for 155 yards and one touchdown. He completed seven of his last eight passes on the night.
“I have been saying all year that we want to pass the ball more,” Coach Billingsley said. “Michael started off a little shaky but once he settled down he was OK. Overall I am pleased with the passing game and we are starting to click there.”
Lowry took advantage of the only turnover of the first half, as South Tahoe fumbled at midfield and the Buckaroos were back in the end zone, a handful of plays later on a 5-yard touchdown run by Michael Billingsley. The big play on the drive was a 32-yard pass to Tytus Millikan.
The Buckaroos forced a three-and-out by the South Tahoe offense and with just under two minutes left in the half, Lowry went to work on its two-minute offense and was able to move the ball down the field but Michael Billingsley was tackled at the 2-yard line as time expired.
Lowry broke the game open in the third quarter with 21 points, including 14 in a 19-second stretch late in the period. Jace Billingsley looked to have another long touchdown run of 75 yards but the play was called back on a holding penalty. However, the Buckaroos drove the 85 yards down the field, with Hernandez finishing the drive on a 5-yard run.
Following a South Tahoe punt, Lowry marched back down the field and went up 42-0 when Michael Billingsley hooked up with Gus Duncan on a 25-yard pass, where Duncan went up high between two South Tahoe defenders in the end zone for the score.
On the Vikings’ next play from scrimmage, quarterback John Cefalu was hit from behind as he went to pass and had the ball was knocked out of his arm. Lowry defensive lineman Matt Ourada picked up the ball and raced 27 yards for the touchdown and a 42-0 Buckaroo advantage.
South Tahoe quickly answered 16 seconds later, as Jacob Stowell went nearly untouched for a 91-yard kickoff return for the Vikings’ first touchdown on the night. South Tahoe missed the extra point at trailed 49-6 going into the fourth quarter.
The final period proved to be a wild one, with 48 combined points. Add in 20 point in the final 2:04 of the third quarter, the schools scored 68 points in a little over 14 minutes.
South Tahoe forced Lowry’s only punt of the night on the next drive and the Vikings moved back down the field and were on the board on a 6-yard run by Tyler Nesbitt. The Buckaroos wasted little time with its next score, as Jace Billingsley, scored on a 75-yard run, less than two minutes later, to put the Buckaroos back up 56-12. The senior finished with 265 yards on the night and three touchdowns. For the season he has 824 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The back and forth scoring continued as Nesbitt scored for a second time, scoring on an 80-yard run just a minute later.
After a long kickoff return by Jace Billingsley, Lowry’s second -team offense got into the scoring column, as Michal Arenas scored on a 5-yard run, after a short 30-yard drive. South Tahoe continued to move the ball and added its third touchdown of the quarter, when Cefalu found Nesbitt for a 53-yard touchdown pass to make the score 63-26.
“The defense played well for the most part,” Billingsley said. “The Nesbitt kid is a good athlete and runs the ball well. They throw the ball well too. They are not a bad team; we just jumped on them early. We have to work with our second team defense a little bit but I was happy with our second offense.”
Lowry once again picked up another long kickoff return, this time from Duncan, which went inside the 20-yard line. Moments later, David Rodriguez scored on a 10-yard run, as the Buckaroos hit the 70-point total for the second time this year. South Tahoe continued to pass into the final minutes and Cefalu was intercepted by Rodriguez and the junior sprinted 65 yards for the final score of the night.
Lowry posted nearly 700 yards in offense, including 488 on the ground. Hernandez added 108 on 12 carries; Michael Billingsley had 42, Duncan 24, Rodriguez 22 and Brandon Okuma. Hernandez led the Buckaroos with three catches for 58 yards, while Duncan had three receptions for 38 yards.
“Jace had another great night and Johnny ran the ball hard for us,” Billingsley said. “We have two strong running backs and teams just can’t focus on one.”
Nesbitt rushed for 102 yards on six carries and Stowell had 49 yards on 10 carries.
Nesbitt and Cefalu combined to 5-of-14 for 152 yards.
Lowry returns home on Friday to host Dayton at 7 p.m. The Dust Devils are coming off a 26-13 win over Churchill County. South Tahoe hosts Wooster at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Colts lost 17-7 to Spring Creek this past Friday.
“We have Dayton this week and they always play us tough and Elko after that,” Billingsley said. “Things will definitely get tougher for us. I think we are playing better and hope to keep improving.”
LOWRY 77, SOUTH TAHOE 26
South Tahoe 0 0 6 20 – 26
Lowry 24 14 21 28 – 77
L – Jace Billingsley 11 run (Taylor Martin kick) (8:05)
L – Jace Billingsley 37 run (Taylor Martin kick) (3:14)
L – Johnny Hernandez 35 run (Taylor Martin kick) (6:54)
L – Michael Billingsley run (Taylor Martin kick) (2:43)
L – Johnny Hernandez 6 run (Taylor Martin) (7:27)
L – Gus Duncan 25 pass from Michael Billingsley (Taylor Martin kick) (2:04)
L – Matt Ourada 27 fumble return (Taylor Martin kick) (1:45)
ST – Jacob Stowell 91 kickoff return (kick failed) (1:29)
ST – Tyler Nesbitt 6 run (kick failed) (11:11)
L – Jace Billingsley 75 run (Taylor Martin kick (9:29)
ST – Tyler Nesbitt 80 run (Ryan Caro kick) (8:08)
L – Michal Arenas 5 run (Taylor Martin kick) (7:23)
ST – Tyler Nesbitt 53 pass from John Cefalu (Ryan Caro kick) (5:46)
L – David Rodriguez 10 run (Taylor Martin kick) (4:28)
L – David Rodriguez 65 interception return (Taylor Martin kick (2:57)
Rushing: Lowry – Jace Billingsley 20-265; Johnny Hernandez 12-108; Michael Billingsley 5-42; Gus Duncan 2-24; David Rodriguez 4-22; Brandon Okuma 1-1; Michal Arenas 3-26. South Tahoe -Tyler Nesbitt 6-102; John Cefalu 1-6; Jacob Stowell 10-49; Pierce Bickert 5-14.
Passing: Lowry – Michael Billingsley 9-14-155-1-0; Tanner Lecumberry 0-0-0. South Tahoe – Tyler Nesbitt 2-8-65; John Cefalu 3-6-87; David Ziello 2-2-58.
Receiving: Lowry – Johnny Hernandez 3-58; Calvin Connors 1-15; Gus Duncan 3-37; Tytus Millikan 1-32; Jace Billingsley 1-13. South Tahoe -Jacob Stowell 2-37; Tyler Nesbitt 1-53; Kyle Moreno 1-4.
Records: Lowry 1-0 Northern 3A, 3-0 overall; South Tahoe 0-2 Northern 3A, 1-2 overall
JV: Lowry 67, South Tahoe 0
Freshman: Lowry 28, South Tahoe 13
Tony Erquiaga is the sports editor at the Humboldt Sun in Winnemucca.