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Blue prevails in Sertoma Classic
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jun 15, 2012 | 1526 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Blue Team defensive back Austin Polli, a 2012 Reed graduate, pulls down a Silver Team ball carrier during first-half action of Friday night’s Sertoma Classic.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Blue Team defensive back Austin Polli, a 2012 Reed graduate, pulls down a Silver Team ball carrier during first-half action of Friday night’s Sertoma Classic.
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All-star prep football players throughout Northern Nevada donned their gridiron gear one last time on Friday night at Damonte Ranch in the 31st annual Sparks Sertoma Football Classic. And they did not disappoint.

The two sides played like heavyweights in a title match, trading punches back and forth en route to the Blue squad holding on to edge out the Silver team 34-27.

Following a first half that left the two teams dizzied from a tug-of-war affair, one that ended with the Blue team holding a slight 17-14 advantage, both went out throwing haymakers.

Forcing the Silver squad into a 3-and-out with its opening drive of the second half, the Blue team took advantage of a bad snap, taking possession on the 1-yard line. From three-feet out, Lowry’s Jace Billingsley punched in the easy score to extend the Blue lead to 24-14 at 10:14 in the third quarter.

The two teams then exchanged punts until the Silver team put together a drive that lasted over six minutes to end the third quarter. Dinking and dunking its way down the field, the Silver side converted a fourth-and-one to leave it at the 5-yard line with just over a minute remaining in the third. After a loss of five, Carson’s Chance Quilling, who was named MVP of the Silver team, took the snap and turned what looked like a sure loss into a 10-yard touchdown run, bringing the game to a 24-21 contest after three quarters.

With one quarter to play, the fireworks were just getting started.

Less than 30 seconds into the final quarter, the Silver team took its first lead of the game. With the Blue team pinned deep in its own territory, Silver defensive back Trevor Auldridge from Truckee intercepted a pass from Reed’s A.J. Silva for a 20-yard pick-six. The point after left the scoreboard reading 27-24 in favor of the Silver side.

The Blue team punted its next possession back to the Silver, but the Silver was unable to manage much offense, setting up for a punt on fourth down. Instead of a punt though, a bad snap left the Blue squad with the ball at the 50. A heavy dosage of Billingsley placed the Blue team on the 19-yard line before he made the play of the game.

Taking the handoff to the right, Billingsley looked doomed from the snap. What looked like a certain loss stunningly turned into a Blue score as Billingsley evaded a handful of tackles in the backfield before slicing through the remaining Silver defenders for the 19-yard touchdown scamper, putting his Blue squad back on top at 31-27 with four minutes to go.

“I kind of messed it up at first,” said Billingsley, who rushed for a pair of scores on 13 carries for 100 yards and was named the Blue’s MVP. “I didn’t really follow my blockers that well. Then I just kept my feet turning and broke some tackles and got in the end zone somehow.”

Reed’s Spencer Stockton then picked off a pass attempt by Truckee’s Patrick Shaffer 40 seconds later in Silver territory, resulting in a 36-yard field goal from Silva to leave the Blue ahead 34-27 at the 1:40 mark of the fourth quarter.

Not ready to go down for the count, the Silver team put together a strong comeback effort in the closing minutes. Driving down the field, the Silver stood 22-yards away from a game-tying score with 16 seconds on the clock. A quick pass to South Tahoe’s Jacob Stowell left the Silver team eight-yards out, but with no timeouts on hand, the game clock ran out resulting in the Blue victory.

“Overall, it was a group effort an all three levels,” Blue coach Ernie Howren said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think this is the perfect ending. It came all the way to the goal line to decide the game. That’s awesome.”

To start the game, the Blue squad jumped out to the lead early on, landing the first jab and setting the tone.

After the Blue All-Stars’ offense was unable to produce any points with its first possession, the defense made sure to give it a second opportunity shortly after.

As Shaffer was flushed out of the pocket on third down, he threw the ball in an attempt to avoid the sack. Lurking in the secondary was Reed linebacker Broc Westlake, who snagged the pass at the Blue 29-yard line.

Not wanting to miss out on the second chance, the Blue team methodically marched down the field until it had a first-and-goal from the five before Silva punched in the first score on a keeper for a 7-0 Blue edge with 2:27 left in the first quarter.

The Silver team’s next possession carried over into the second quarter, but again resulted in no points on the scoreboard when Carson’s Austin Pocheco missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

Making a change under center, the Blue crew struck hastily.

Using a barrage of short passes and runs, the Blue team worked its way to its own 41-yard line. Fernley quarterback Kenney Bradley then hit Reed wide receiver Dave Hibler on a quick slant. Catching the ball in stride at midfield, Hibler then outraced the remaining Silver secondary for a 59-yard score to put the Blue team ahead 14-0 with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter.

Just over five minutes was plenty of time for the Silver squad to get back in the game.

Taking to the air, Shaffer led the Silver team to its first score with big chunks from the passing game. It looked like the drive would stall with the Silver team facing a 3rd-and-10 at the Blue 34-yard line. Chased out of the pocket, Shaffer threw the ball up for grabs where Douglas’ Nate Von Ahsen snatched the jump ball for a 29-yard gain into the red zone. The Silver squad then finished the drive with a five-yard pass to Quilling to bring the deficit to 14-7 with 2:19 left in the first half.

The Silver defense then got into the action as Brian Smokey of Pershing County picked off a pass from Kenney Bradley at the Blue’s 30-yard line with just over a minute left in the half. With 0:28 on the clock Von Ahsen grabbed a 25-yard pass from Shaffer to knot the game at 14-14.

The scoring was not over for the first half though. Billingsley returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to the Silver’s 10-yard line allowing Silva to get off a 26-yard field goal to leave the score at 17-14 in favor of the Blue.

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