SOUTH TAHOE, Calif. - As Tyler Griffin sailed down the line with a 42-yard touchdown pass tucked neatly under his arm, he eclipsed any chance of a Vikings comeback.
Griffin's TD gave Truckee a 21-point lead and delivered a devastating blow to the Vikings 26 seconds before half. South Tahoe was within one touchdown two minutes earlier, but two minutes is plenty of time for Truckee to change the fate of a game.
The Wolverines captured a 63-28 win in their final regular-season game in South Tahoe Friday.
Truckee smashed out of the gate in the first quarter.
Griffin spun out of South Tahoe's grasp on a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown. Less than two minutes later, Jake Pettit ran for an 11-yard TD off a stealthy Erik Holmer handoff. The Wolverines now held a commanding 14-0 lead and the clock hadn't hit 10 minutes yet.
But Truckee's fast pace was nothing unexpected. The Vikings started chipping at the early lead. Quarterback John Cefalu patiently worked the ball downfield with a series of short passes spread out to his receiving staff. Cefalu then found wide receiver Kyle Moreno with a 4-yard touchdown pass.
The Vikings had busted up the shutout.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, the Vikings slammed into Truckee on the kick return, forcing a fumble and recovering on the Wolverines' 40.
Cefalu started the procedure again. A 17-yard pass to Cale Backinger here, a quick handoff to Dylan Gardner there, and the Vikings were within striking distance. Cefalu capitalized, cutting the Wolverines lead to one with an 11-yard bullet to Kyante Wilson.
The Holmer and Pettit combination got the final word, however. Pettit drove another handoff up the middle to find end zone with 27 seconds left.
Yes, this was all still in the first quarter.
Holmer edged the Wolverines ahead still further to open the second. He connected with Tyler Curtis on a 33-yard pass to drop Truckee at the Vikings' 1-yard line. Curtis made good on the final yard with a leap into the end zone.
Curtis served up a repeat performance one minute later off a recovered fumble. The running back drove up the middle 7 yards for a touchdown on first-and-goal.
The Vikings hung in.
Their QB hit Brandon Cramer with a short pass, and the wide receiver took it for a 64-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion, and the game was within two possessions for the
The Vikings rallied behind the shift in momentum to stop Truckee on its next
drive. Cefalu then brought the game within one TD when he found Backinger with an
But the score was close enough, and Truckee turned up the heat on a chilly night.
Holmer helped his own cause, taking the ball 26 yards into the end zone. Holmer then added the 42-yard touchdown pass to Griffin with seconds until half, crumbling the Vikings' comeback chances. The Wolverines went into halftime with a 49-28 lead.
Truckee devoured the clock with runs up the middle in the second half.
Griffin added two more in the third quarter for good measure off a 40-yard touchdown pass and a 36-yard touchdown run.
The win was No. 167 for Truckee head coach Bob Shaffer, which places him first among active coaches in the NIAA, and third all time.