It was nervous time Eureka coach Fred Minoletti admitted last Friday as the Vandals recovered a fumble in the red zone late in the game to preserve a 28-22 win at Wells in their league opener.
The Vandals scored a couple of times in the first half for a 12-0 lead, “and should have scored more,” Minoletti said. “But again we can’t seem to get out of our own way and miss some opportunities. Mistakes, penalties or fumbles we sometimes make at bad times. We had a good drive but turned it over with a fumble on the three-yard line. Otherwise, we could have built up a pretty good lead in the first half. We were defending Wells pretty good in the first half.”
However, in the second half, the Leopards turned to the pass, a common practice for them, as quarterback Jared Martinez was 15-of-32 for 207 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw three interceptions.
Wells got a couple of quick scores on passes to Enrique Agular, including a 43-yard strike, and 38-yards to Orrin Taylor to rally in the fourth quarter to take a 22-20 lead with about nine minutes remaining.
Minoletti said Wells used a no-huddle, up-tempo game most of the time which he said did cause some extra fatigue for the Vandal players in the second half.
After Wells (1-2, 0-1) had taken the lead, Eureka managed to drive the ball downfield with some good passing by C.W. Landry to Chris Dolan, mixed in with a few runs. “We reached the Wells four-yard line,” Minoletti said. “Landry then ran it in for the score to take a 28-22 lead with about five minutes remaining. “After that,” he said, “We held them once, got an interception, but had to punt and Wells made another drive down to the 15 or 20 yard line with about two minutes to go, but after a couple of incomplete passes, with under a minute left, Mikey Lacovara managed to cause a fumble on third down and recover it himself to preserve the win.”
Landry was 8-for-9 passing, 118 yards, and he rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Lee had six carries for 59 yards and Dolan had six receptions for 102 yards.
On defense, Vinnie Padilla registered five tackles, five other players had four tackles.
Eureka (1-3), 1-0) has the week off and prepares to play at Carlin Sept. 29. The Railroaders lost a non-league game at Pahranagat Valley last week 62-6.