The biggest difference in the game was that Fernley (5-3) scored on every single possession it had in the first half, and the Railroaders didn’t score on any.
“I thought our effort tonight was great,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell
said. “We were definitely out manned. We had a good team across the field there. Everyone played hard tonight. We didn’t give up.”
Fernley scored early and often to start the game. On the first possession of the game, Fernley racked up 60 yards and capped a scoring drive with 7-yard run by Michael Kendricks for a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Sparks couldn’t get past its own 41 on the ensuing possession and Fernley took over on downs. Fernley’s Kendricks found the end zone again on a 2-yard rush with 5:03 left in the first quarter, extending the Vaqueros lead to 14-0.
“It was mostly just for us to get better and worry about ourselves,” Fernley coach Jeff Knutson said on his team’s game plan coming into the matchup with Sparks. “We knew that Sparks was short some players and has had a rough season. So we just wanted to come out and work on what we needed to do to get better through the next stretch of the season.”
Fernley’s third score came just six seconds into the second quarter on a 12-yard pass from Bryce Baker. The extra-point try failed but the Lyon County school forged ahead 20-0.
A Sparks fumble with seven and a half minutes left in the first half resulted in a Fernley touchdown on a 25-yard fumble return for a 34-0 edge.
After a Sparks three-and-out, Fernley’s Dylan Evans racked up a TD on a 32-yard pass from Baker for a 41-0 advantage with 3:24 to go in the half.
Sparks fumbled again and Fernley took over on the Railroaders’ 14-yard line. On the following play, Oscar Aceves carried the pigskin on a screen play and ran it in 18 seconds after Fernley’s last score for the 48-0 Fernley halftime lead.
The second half started off much better for the Railroaders. Ryan Funk caught the kickoff and ran it 97 yards for Sparks’ only score of the game.
“We found out a few weeks ago that he could run the ball,” Kittrell said on Funk. “It’s his turn to run the ball now. We’ll see what he can do. He’s only a junior.”
Funk’s 97-yarder broke the previous Sparks High School kickoff return record, held by Keith Lightfoot, Kittrell said.
Fernley added one more touchdown on a 22-yard pass to Bryce Pasco for the 55-7, with 9:45 left in the third quarter.
“I thought we executed very well,” Knutson said. “I thought Sparks came out and although they were depleted, they played real hard and made us earn it. It wasn’t like they just handed us things with bad plays on their part.”
The Railroaders (1-8) were able to string together several nice drives in the second half, and collected the majority of their first downs in those two quarters.
“We did the same things we did in the first half except we came out with some audibles," Kittrell said. "So we were running the plays against the fronts they were throwing us."
Sparks, which has dropped eight in a row, has one more game left on the calendar. The Railroaders will travel to Truckee for a Saturday afternoon game next weekend.