“That was the sloppiest game I think I have ever coached in,” Sparks coach Rob Kittrell said.
Kicking off to start the game, Sparks attempted to surprise the Indians with an onside kick, but jumped offside. Surprise ruined. In what was arguably Spark’s biggest play of the game, the Railroaders forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing play.
And then it started.
Sparks followed with a three and out, had 12 men on the field during the punt then snapped the second punt attempt over Hennessy Banks’ head. Banks alertly kicked the ball out of the back of the endzone for a safety.
Elko’s James Carter, listed at 6 feet 5 inches tall, hauled in a 60-yard touchdown on the next play. After a stalled Sparks drive, Elko’s quarterback Connor Altenburg hooked up with Carter again, this time from 53 yards out after Carter cut across the entire field to put Elko up 14-0.
Sparks followed with one of its many three and outs of the night only to allow a 50-yard punt return for a score to no other than Carter with only six seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“We had no answer for him (Carter),” Kittrell said.
Carter placed the exclamation point on his performance at the four-minute mark in the second quarter with the score 21-0. On the Sparks 10-yard line, Carter received a reverse and broke a handful of tackles before scoring what would have been his fourth touchdown of the first half. The play was called back for holding. On the next play Carter hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass on a fade route.
It was the last time he touched the ball but it was plenty enough. Carter finished with three catches for three touchdowns and 124 yards including the punt return for a score.
The 28-0 cushion was plenty enough for the Elko defense which didn’t allow Sparks to cross its own 30-yardline until the 1:23 mark in the third quarter. That drive stalled after Hennessy was stuffed on a fourth and nine from the 14.
Elko’s Jason Wilson ran for two 56-yard touchdowns on both ends of halftime. His first coming with 34 seconds left in the first half and his second coming on Elko’s first play of the second half after a Sparks three and out.
Wilson finished with 125 yards and two scores on five carries.
With a new look offense that is going to feature the running game, Sparks’ Banks ran for 72 yards on 16 carries. Banks took several breathers throughout the game as he started on both sides of the ball, was the punter and on the kickoff return team.
Railroaders quarterback Mastor Sells was held to one yard on seven carries.
Despite practicing indoors for almost two weeks and losing the team’s first game, Kittrell refused to the lack of outdoor practice as an excuse for the outcome.
So what do you do now coach?
“We have to get better,” Kittrell said. “We have to get smarter, quicker and us as coaches have to be more demanding. It is what it is.”
After a winless 2012, Sparks will attempt to get its first win in nearly two years at Spring Creek next Friday.