Warriors book the bus ride to Carlin; Whittell uses reinvigorated rushing attack to down Lovelock | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors book the bus ride to Carlin; Whittell uses reinvigorated rushing attack to down Lovelock

Whittell and Lovelock let the offensive and defensive lines decide their final regular season game Friday afternoon in Zephyr Cove, playing football the way it used to be played – physical and between the tackles.

The Warriors didn’t complete one forward pass but didn’t need to as their gelling offensive line produced a 247-yard rushing attack in the 28-14 Northern Nevada 2A victory.

Whittell, 5-3, completed division play with a 5-2 record and as the North’s third seed will travel to Carlin for a first-round playoff game Saturday at 1 p.m.

Carlin scouts probably came away from Friday’s game figuring they don’t need to prepare for the pass. But Whittell didn’t need to risk any passes with a rushing attack averaging nearly seven yards a pop.

“I’m pleased and I think we’ve come a long way. Hopefully we can continue,” said WHS coach Larry Reilly. “I think there’s a little more confidence and I think our young guys (sophomores) have eight games under their belts and they’re not sophomores any more. They know what it takes; it’s a physical game, whereas the first three of four games, they had no idea what was going on.

Luke Forvilly rushed for a season-high 144 yards, including a game-breaking 80-yard burst down the sideline on the second play of the third period.

“This is good motivation and prepares us for the postseason,” Forvilly said.

Junior back Joey Massa pounded the ball at the Mustangs all afternoon, collecting 70 yards, including 1- and 5-yard touchdown runs.

“Now we’re working together as one instead of playing for themselves,” Massa said. “Matt (Lincoln), Joel Warnick and Nick Summers were making big holes for me.”

However, the Warriors may have lost a key ingredient in their offensive line resurgence – tight end Joel Warnick. Warnick suffered a high ankle sprain while making a tackle in the second half and didn’t return. His status for the playoffs is uncertain.

“This is the last thing I wanted to happen,” said Warnick, who indicated he wouldn’t be able to play if the game was today. “I’ll go to therapy all week, and if it’s better I’ll play, and if not, I’m not going to chance getting hurt.

“Hopefully the team can get it done if I don’t play, and I can play the next game.”

Each team only got the ball once in the first quarter as the offenses mounted long drives dominated by rushing plays. The Mustangs’ 12-play opening march ended in the end zone as Forvilly picked off the pass with 5:49 left in the first quarter.

“We’ve done that all year, and I don’t understand it,” Reilly insisted. “And I’m glad I don’t coach the defense, because I’d probably stay up all night trying to figure it out.”

Whittell reciprocated with a 14-play drive, consuming the rest of the first quarter and the first play of the second. But the Mustangs dug in to stop the Warriors at their 5 when Massa’s fourth-down rush netted only three yards.

Lovelock started another methodical push down the field, but Warnick ended it abruptly when he picked off a David Knight pass in the flat and dashed down the sideline to break the scoreless tie with 4 minutes, 35 seconds left in the half. A block by Nick Gant made Warnick’s 44-yard touchdown run down the sideline unimpeded.

Minutes later, the Mustangs became more generous, fumbling a Forvilly punt at their 11 with Chauncey Lane gathering in the pigskin at the 3. Two plays later, Massa blasted into the end zone from a yard out with 1:31 left in the second quarter. Quarterback Keith Truswell ran in the two-point conversion and Whittell took a 14-0 lead into intermission.

As plodding as the offenses were in the first, it looked as if two different offenses came out for the second half. On the second play from scrimmage, Forvilly knocked over two Mustangs, breaking free for an 80-yard touchdown run down the sideline.

“Coach said a halftime with our (22 play) if I could just get past these two linemen I could break off and score, and that’s pretty much what we did,” said Forvilly, who had his first 100-yard rushing output of the season.

But Buzz Brooks, who carried the Mustang offense on his broad shoulders, kept the visitors within striking range as he returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a score. Brooks’ conversion run failed and Whittell led 21-6 with 10:54 remaining in the third period.

Early in the fourth period, Massa put the finishing touches on Whittell’s first winning season since 1996. During the 43-yard drive, Massa carried five times for 29 yards, including the final five yards.

“He’s an Italian kid who I don’t think knows any better but to run hard and he runs in a straight line. There are no moves, it’s a straight line and if you’re in my way I’m going to hit you,” Reilly said.

Michael Kiger sacked Knight twice in the final quarter, keeping the Mustangs from creating a miracle finish.

“We were in the whole game with them until the last 5 minutes, and we’ve definitely improved since then, especially the line has,” Forvilly said. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if we won.”

Massa: I think we have a pretty good chance. Everyone wants to go out there and beat them because they beat us last time and we should have beat them.

“Now we’re working together as one instead of playing for themselves,” Massa said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User