ELKO – With 8:52 remaining in the game Friday night, the Elko football team appeared it was headed for a fifth straight loss against Lowry at Warrior Field.
Elko came up with its most crunch-time drive of the year, defeating the Buckaroos 18-14.
The first score of the game came in fitting for fashion for the Indians.
Despite the struggles of Elko’s offense, the Indians found a way to turn in a touchdown on special teams.
The Buckaroos were forced to punt on their opening drive of the game, and Elko junior Christian Quintana fielded the kick at midfield and was off the races.
The touchdown proved to be the only time the Indians found the endzone in the first half.
The Indians went for a 2-point conversion, as Ronin Rowley completing a pass to senior Antawn Valtierra.
Elko opened an 8-0 lead with 9:57 remaining in the first period.
Toward the end of the first period, Elko faced 3rd-and-long. Carter Alvarado connected with Cooper Jones for nearly a 20-yard gain to the Lowry 21-yard line.
The drive stalled out and the Indians elected to use the tailwind and line up for a field goal.
Kaleb Martinez drilled the kick straight down the middle of the uprights , giving Elko an 11-0 lead with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Lowry set itself up in good field position on the ensuing kickoff, with Matthew Souza returning the kick to midfield.
The Buckaroos wasted little time notching points on the drive.
On the first play of the second quarter, Victor Rosas took an inside handoff and found the edge around the right side of Elko’s defensive end. He got effective blocked by Cade Billingsley, who pulled from the left side.
Rosas found nothing but green in his sights, quickly turning his focus to the end zone.
The 50-yard gallop pulled the Buckaroos to within five ponts at 11-6 following an unsuccessful extra point try.
Elko picked up a first down a bull-like rush by Valtierra, following successful runs by Alvarado and Rowley.
The drive came to a close on incomplete passes and Elko lined up to punt.But the kick-turned-fake came up well short of the line to gain.
Lowry took over on downs and effectively moved the ball down the field with a quarterback keeper by Brendan Domire.
In addition, Rosas gashed the Indians for consecutive first downs against Elko’s defense.
The Indians adjusted and went with more down linemen, stiffening near the Elko 20.
Lowry’s fourth-down conversion attempt fell incomplete when the running back slipped and fell as Domire threw the football.
Elko took control of the ball on its own 16 with 3:35 remaining in the half, finding nice runs from senior Gavin Byington and a bull-like run by Valtierra into Lowry territory.
The Indians were forced to punt and the kick hit short and bounced, the Lowry return man making the unwise decision to try to make a play in traffic.
The muffed punt was picked up by Elko senior Skyler Brown.
Alvarado threw a pass to Jones inside the Lowry 10 with less than 45 seconds remaining in the half, but Elko took a step back and committed the cardinal sin of taking a sack with time and timeouts at a premium.
The Indians took their final timeout of the first half but could not cash in, ending the half with a pass to Jones in the left corner of the end zone instead of electing to kick a field goal into the driving wind.
Jones made the grab but was pushed out of bounds before he could establish possession in the field of play.
Elko clung to an 11-6 lead at the break.
The third quarter provided no scoring for either squad, although the Buckaroos came as close as possible to putting up six.
Domire made a big run from the Lowry 37 to the Elko 42 on third down.
He broke Elko’s outside contain on numerous occasions and moved the ball to the Elko 3, but junior Landon Dente made a five-yard tackle for a loss.
Domire went around the left side of the Elko line and approached the goal line but fumbled the ball.
The pigskin squirted out of the back of the end zone and gave the Indians a touchback, Elko dodging a six-point bullet.
Elko was forced to punt and Lowry took over on its own 49.
The Indians forced a 4th-and-11, Lowry leaving the offense on the field.
Domire rolled to the right and tossed a heave down the right sideline, the ball landing in the hands of Souza and freshman Anthony Peterson simultaneously.
The ball bounced up and back in the hands of Peterson at the Elko 030.
The Buckaroos broke out all the stops on 3rd-and-10, going to the old hook-and-no-lateral on a catch to the Elko 20.
Rosas went off-tackle right and would not be denied, driving defenders into the end zone.
He also punched home the conversion, giving Lowry 14-11 lead with 8:52 remaining in the game.
The Indians picked up a big play on a 19-yard throw from Rowley to senior Jeremiah Harris to the Lowry 35.
A facemask penalty set up Elko at the 25, and Jones took a toss left – shut down – reversing field and picking up a first down for the Indians.
Byington used Elko’s patented run-right approach and made a great cut, giving Elko the lead with 6:13 left on the clock from 11 yards out.
Martinez added the extra point to put , Elko on top 18-14.
Lowry moved the ball downfield with first-down runs by Rosas and Domire into Elko territory.
A pass would have been for another first down but was dropped.
The Buckaroos faced 4th-and-8 from Elko’s 42 with 2:18 remaining, but junior Luis Garcia and Harris blew through the Lowry line and combined for Elko’s biggest sack of the season.
The Indians took over on the Lowry 49 but the drive was killed by a holding penalty, moving Elko back.
The Indians punted and the Buckaroos needed drive 65 yards in 1:13 to win.
Rowley, Harris and Brown combined for a big sack and then Domire was stopped on a scramble.
A deep pass fell incomplete with three seconds remaining.
Domire attempted to buy time on the final play of the game, but he retreated and was dumped for a huge loss by junior Carl Hansen.
Lowry dropped to 1-6 in the Northern 3A and 1-7 overall. Lowry travels to Sparks on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff