In one of the worst halves the Railroaders have played this season, the home team fell into a 31-0 hole by halftime and was embarrassed by Lowry 51-7 in prep football action.
It marked the third straight loss by Sparks after it began the season with three consecutive victories.
The Railroader faithful let out a collective groan after the first play of the game. It went for 65 yards and a touchdown when Buckaroos quarterback Mitch Pollock connected with standout tailback Jace Billingsley on the play for a 7-0 lead, 14 seconds into the game. Billingsley had four touchdowns on the night and two went for at least 65 yards.
It didn’t get any better for the Maroon and Gold.
On Lowry’s next possession, a 47-yard run by Billingsley set up a 6-yard touchdown scamper by Jonathan Hernandez, pushing the lead to 14-0 with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
The Buckaroos needed just four plays from scrimmage to go up by two touchdowns. They didn’t need any offensive plays to double their lead.
Sparks nearly drove into the red zone only to see Lowry defensive end Mitch Tiske pick up a poor pitch off one bounce and sprint to the end zone. Sixty-four yards later, the Buckaroos were up 21-0 with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
On the Railroaders’ ensuing possession, quarterback Geo Vasquez completed a pass, but it was fumbled and Anthony Leal picked it up and returned it 35 yards for a score. The PAT was good and the visitors led 28-0 with 11:47 left in the first half.
A 21-yard field goal 20 seconds before halftime handed Lowry the 31-0 lead at the break.
“Sparks had some turnovers. We picked up a couple and ran them in,” Lowry football coach Tim Billingsley said. “That first play I think broke them down a little bit. We were expecting a lot from Sparks. We just came out and played well. We got beat by Elko last week. We had a good week of practice and we came out ready to go.”
The second half was more of the same for the Railroaders.
After Lowry (5-1, 3-1 in league) recovered an inadvertent onside kick to start the second half, Hernandez and Billingsley took turns carrying the ball on a four-play scoring drive. It was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Billingsley, making it 38-0.
Following a Sparks three-and-out, Lowry took over at its 35 and trekked 65 yards in three minutes. Billingsley punched it in from 10 yards out for his third TD of the game.
He was not done though. Again the Railroaders were limited to three plays and a punt on offense. When the Buckaroos got the ball on their own 34, Billingsley proceeded to bust through the middle of the line and weave back and forth down the field for a 66-yard touchdown. The point after was wide, so Lowry settled for a 51-0 edge after three quarters of play.
The clock remained in motion the entire fourth quarter, but it wasn’t until there was no time left on the clock that Sparks finally erased the goose egg.
With six minutes on the fourth-quarter clock, Sparks (3-3, 2-3 in league) started a 92-yard scoring drive that ended when backup quarterback Martin Jordan tossed up a pass in the end zone and Esteban Bravo batted it up in the air and came down with it for a 15-yard touchdown reception as time expired.
While Sparks gained just under 140 yards of offense in the first half, the Railroaders had less than 10 yards of offense in the second half until that final scoring drive with reserves in the game.
“We’ve seen film on Sparks and we were impressed with them on film,” coach Billingsley said. “They just got some bad breaks in the first half and we kept the heat on them.”
Sparks will try to end the losing skid when it travels to South Tahoe for a Week 7 matchup.