This was the game South Tahoe needed to erase some of the sting from a 0-6 start.
The Vikings (1-6) notched their first win of the season — a 33-7 collective effort over the Sparks Railroaders (0-7) — in the final home game of the season Friday night. Now, with powerhouse teams like Lowry and Fallon out of the way, the remaining games against Spring Creek and Truckee should make for somewhat smoother sailing.
Everything clicked for the Vikings on Friday. Quarterback Steven Steed found receivers with heat-seeking accuracy. The defense held up its end of the bargain and then there was senior wide receiver Jared Fajman, who as usual was the glue lacing together the Vikings’ success.
There was no way the Vikings were ending without a single home win, and they didn’t take long to prove it.
Senior running back Tylor “Bama” Nicholson broke free in the midfield and sped away from Sparks’ flailing defense for a 44-yard touchdown run on the Vikings’ opening play.
South Tahoe was off to a 6-0 start and built on that momentum in its next possession.
Fajman returned the Vikings to Sparks’ 44, and running back Dylan Gardner set the Vikings up. He carried his team to Sparks’ 5, but Sparks made a stand. The Vikings tried to run in a touchdown, but the Railroaders backed them to fourth-and-goal on the 7.
South Tahoe had one chance left, and Steed and Kirby David delivered. Steed located David, who was alone in the end zone, for an easy touchdown pass. Stone Merkely’s kick was good, and the Vikings led 13-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Sparks stepped up its game in the second quarter. The Railroaders ate up the clock with two long drives, the second ending in a time-expiring touchdown. Quarterback Mastor Sells let loose a 40-yard Hail Mary and the Vikings tipped it into Jervontae Churchill’s waiting arms.
The kick was good, and Sparks chopped South Tahoe’s lead to 13-7 at the half.
But Sparks halftime message seemed to ignite the Vikings even more. South Tahoe recovered an onside kick to open the third, and senior receivers Fajman and Kyle Miller marched the Vikings downfield. Fajman moved the Vikings 17 yards, Miller added another 12 to land South Tahoe on Sparks’ 20. Steed then found Fajman once again, and the speedy receiver scrambled around four defenders to lengthen the Vikings’ lead to 19-7.
South Tahoe’s defense forced two turnovers on Sparks’ next possessions, and the Steed-Fajman combo came through again.
With less than two minutes left on the clock, Fajman took Steed’s pass 50 yards into the Railroaders’ end zone. Nicholson muscled in the conversion, and the win was practically a sure thing as South Tahoe headed into the fourth with a 27-7 lead.
Brandon Erickson added an extra punch with an interception to open the fourth.
Sparks made one more long drive, with Hennesy Banks running the Railroaders into South Tahoe’s red, but the Vikings defense shut it down there.
Gardner added a final South Tahoe touchdown with less than one minute left on the clock. The sophomore running back took the ball wide and leaped into the end zone for a final Vikings Bowl score.
UP NEXT: South Tahoe will travel to Spring Creek (2-5) Friday, and end the season the following week in Truckee (2-5) on Friday, Nov. 2.