Trailing 35-33 with 24 seconds on the clock, the Vikings dug in for a two-point attempt.
Dayton had been leading South Tahoe all night, but in the biting 38-degrees at the bitter end none of that mattered. The Dust Devils had let the Vikings back in.
South Tahoe’s new quarterback Steven Steed dropped back and sent a bullet toward Kirby David in the end zone. David leaped toward the pass, but Dayton’s Austin Fletcher came flying in to swat away South Tahoe’s chance of a homecoming win. The Dust Devils went on to win 42-33 Friday night at South Tahoe’s homecoming in a Division 1A game.
Dayton opened the door for South Tahoe in the fourth quarter, but the Dust Devils were in command up until that point.
Seven minutes into the game, Dayton quarterback Davis Winebarger found Julio Meza, who shook South Tahoe’s defense for a 76-yard touchdown to give Dayton a 7-0 edge.
The Dust Devils expanded the lead in the second quarter when Fletcher took the ball for a 65-yard touchdown run. Fletcher was just getting warmed up, but so was Steed.
Steed was beginning to lace together threatening drives. He marched South Tahoe to Dayton’s 12, but the Vikings fell short as Dayton’s defense forced a three-and-out.
But the Vikings kept chipping away, and Steed finally connected with Jared Fajman in the final 22 seconds of the half. Fajman hauled in the 17-yard pass to cut the lead to 14-7.
The Dust Devils came out strong in the second half with back-to-back touchdowns. Fletcher recovered a fumble in Dayton’s red zone and took it for a long touchdown run.
Fletcher than ran for 46 yards on Dayton’s next drive to set up the Dust Devils on the Vikings’ 9. Skyler Berntson punched it in the touchdown, and Dayton took a commanding 28-7 lead with five minutes left in the third.
Steed started driving the Vikings back downfield. He hit Fajman for 39 yards to put South Tahoe in striking distance. Tyler Nickerson then scored on a 14-yard run.
Vikings running back Dylan Gardner followed up early in the fourth, scoring from 4 yards out to cut Dayton’s lead to 28-21.
The 6-foot, 195-pound running back took in his third touchdown of the night from 61 yards out.
But after Fletcher’s run, the Dust Devils started to slip.
The Vikings needed one play to answer back. Steed sent a 44-yard pass to Brandon Erickson on the opening play of the Vikings’ next drive. The touchdown brought the game back to one possession with four minutes remaining.
On the next drive, South Tahoe’s Quinton Ritter pulled down an interception on the 50. The Vikings went to work.
Steed started by hitting Erickson to move the Vikings to Dayton’s 9.
Dayton forced three incompletes, but on fourth-and-goal a pack of players went up for the ball and South Tahoe’s wide receiver Kyle Miller came down with it with 24 seconds remaining. The Vikings were a two-point conversion away.
Dayton’s defense held, forcing another incomplete, but South Tahoe wasn’t done yet.
The Vikings recovered their onside kick with less than 20 seconds to go. Steed sent up a final hail Mary, but Dayton’s Jaret Reed was there to greet it and take it in for a final statement.
UP NEXT: South Tahoe (0-5) will host Sparks (0-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in the final home game of the season.