The Railroaders got their points in the first half on a 57-yard field goal by Esteban Bravo, which broke Keith Lightfoot’s school record, and a 30-yarder.
But Sparks figured things out in the second half.
“We got more physical on the defensive side of the ball,” Sparks football coach Rob Kittrell said. “We started seeing what these guys could do defensively. We forced some turnovers and put some stops together.”
The Maroon and Gold made it a 22-12 ballgame on a Geo Vasquez to Erik Garcia 6-yard touchdown pass and catch. The PAT was blocked.
A safety increased Fernley’s lead to 24-12, but Sparks closed the gap to a game-low five points, 24-19, on an 8-yard touchdown reception to Bravo with four minutes to play in the game.
Sparks had all of its timeouts so it elected to kick away and play defense. After burning all their timeouts, the Railroaders’ defense broke and Fernley found the end zone, pushing the lead back up to 31-19.
However, the visitors came down and scored with 12 seconds left, only to see the onside kick go out of bounds, sealing the Vaqueros’ victory.
Sparks (0-3) must head to 3A North powerhouse Truckee Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.