David Jackson was bad news for South Tahoe every time he got the ball.
The senior running back scored four touchdowns against the Vikings in the first half alone. Elko went on to claim the Northern Division IA game 57-19 at South Tahoe High School Friday.
The Vikings have struggled defensively all season, and those familiar problems continued to haunt them against Elko. South Tahoe forced a total of three turnovers while the Indians forced 10 and relied on a strong running game to seal the win.
That running game started with David Jackson, who punched in a 39-yard touchdown on Elko’s fifth play of the game.
Indians’ quarterback Connor Altenburg quickly followed up with another Indians’ TD, hitting James Carter for a 51-yard touchdown pass on his first pass attempt of the night and the Indians’ next possession.
Before the quarters’ end, Jackson notched one more to the Indians’ opening statement. Alex Jordan set up the Indians, hauling in a 17-yard bullet to drop Elko inside the 10. Two plays later, Jackson pushed the ball through from 5 yards out and Elko was leading 18-0 at the end of the first quarter.
South Tahoe answered quickly in the second. Quarterback Steven Steed found wide receiver Jared Fajman for a 50-yard touchdown in the first minute. Kicker Stone Merkley added a point and South Tahoe was back in the game 18-7.
South Tahoe then forced a three-and-out and seemed to be turning the tide, but Jackson squashed the Vikings’ momentum on the first play of Elko’s next possesion. He carried the ball 78 yards for his third touchdown of the night.
The long run pulled the Indians to 25-7, but Jackson wasn’t done. He added a final 7-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds left in the half.
Trailing 31-7, the Vikings needed to make an immediate impact in the second half to stay in the game, and they did.
Again, Steed found Fajman and started marching the ball downfield. The drive ended with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Fajman in the end zone. Fajman closed his hands around the ball a split seconds before two Elko defenders came crashing in from either side and sandwiched the senior wide receiver to the ground.
But again the Vikings couldn’t build on their success. They fumbled the ball on their next possession and Elko recovered.
Elko’s backup quarterback Jacob Conklin capitalized on the turnover. He connected with Nate Klekas for a 23-yard Indians’ touchdown.
The Indians then forced another three-and-out, and Carter buried South Tahoe with a converted punt return, 44-13.
Another South Tahoe fumble opened the door for Elko again. This time LA Jones ran in a 12-yard touchdown as Elko climbed to 51-13 lead to end the third quarter.
Despite the lopsided score, Fajman was still fighting. He picked off an interception on the Indians’ opening fourth-quarter drive and turned the opportunity into a 36-yard receiving touchdown three minutes later.
But Elko got the final word. Jared Pawlik ran in the final touchdown of the game from 41 yards out.
With the win, Elko improved to 5-1, and South Tahoe dropped to 0-6 in league.
UP NEXT: South Tahoe will host Sparks (0-6) in the final home game of the season at 7 p.m. Friday.