South Tahoe High snaps 20 game losing streak
SPARKS — Reed High provided all of its fireworks by the end of an illuminating halftime show Friday, but it was South Tahoe that delivered the entertainment after intermission.
The Vikings exploded for 28 unanswered points and five sacks in the second half as the school buried a 20-game losing streak that started in 2000.
Senior running back Grant Swinney rushed for 208 yards and two scores in the final 24 minutes as the Vikings beat the Raiders in the nonleague football game, 35-7. Swinney rushed for a career-high 275 yards on 28 carries.
“It was worth all of the hard work, for sure, to get this one win,” said senior defensive lineman Justin McIntyre, who recorded five sacks.
When the final second ticked off the clock, the Vikings, enjoying the first varsity victory of their high school football careers, began a modest celebration of leaping and screaming near midfield before collectively raising their helmets. Supporters gave the Vikings two standing ovations before the players disappeared into the dressing room.
“It’s outstanding. This is indicative of how they can play,” said STHS defensive coordinator Eric Beavers about the Vikings’ senior class sticking with the program during one of the worst stretches in school history. “I think a lot of people had written them off and had asked them why do you work hard, it’s not worth the effort. These guys battled through maybe hearing that from friends or the community or what have you and over the offseason they worked hard.”
The last time the Vikings won was November 2000 in a playoff game against Galena. STHS was coached by Tim Jaureguito. Chris Morgan and Beavers followed as head coach but never had a victory.
First-year head coach Todd McIntyre, who has seen more good than bad during his 15 years with the program, felt awful after a 42-38 home loss to Bishop to kick off the season.
“We kept telling them, if you work this hard, you’ll win and they didn’t win. But it finally paid off,” McIntyre said.
Following a halftime tribute to 9-11 victims complete with fireworks, Swinney and the offensive and defensive fronts brought emotion and intensity to the second half that the Raiders didn’t match.
On the first play from scrimmage, Swinney made a nifty change of direction to break loose for a 65-yard run to the Reed 15. Reed held the Vikings to 2 yards on the next two plays, but junior quarterback Mikey Van Gorden connected on a 13-yard scoring pass to Justin Keys with 10 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the quarter. Matt Bobman’s kick made it 14-7.
“I don’t think we came out showing those guys any respect, knowing what we knew about them,” said Reed running back/receiver Ryan Lammle. “You can’t play one half and expect the other half just to fall into place. You have to make it happen.”
After two runs, an incomplete pass and illegal motion penalty netted Reed minus 2 yards, Swinney and his busy legs dealt the Raiders another blow. First, Swinney used one of his patented cutbacks for a 13-yard gain to the Reed 41 and then burst through an enormous hole behind center on his way to a 41 yard TD run.
“We said it all week long, this guy can run, he can cut back, you’ve got to keep him contained and obviously we didn’t,” said Reed coach Ernie Howren.
Dazed from the Vikings’ two long runs in 3:49, the Raiders eschewed their productive running game for a passing attack that played right into the hands of the Vikings’ fierce pass rush. Junior linebacker Nick Garratt started the sack party by blindsiding quarterback Zack May for a 7-yard loss at the Reed 33.
“The good thing is once we got on them, we didn’t look back, we kept going,” coach McIntyre said.
Starting on their 29, the Vikings gave Reed a 1-2 punch of Swinney and Van Gorden for the knockout punch. Swinney darted for 38 yards and Van Gorden for 33, with Swinney taking it the final 18 yards for a 28-7 edge with 2:36 to go in the third quarter.
“In a one-back set if you have a guy going for 200-plus yards, you have a front blocking and guys doing some good things,” McIntyre said.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Vikings showed a pass rush that sent several disgruntled Reed fans to the parking lot. Kyle Jones, Justin McIntyre and Randy Henson sacked May on successive plays. The Vikings recorded eight sacks in all, including five by McIntyre. McIntyre now has eight sacks through two games.
“I wouldn’t say they wanted it more. They just flat played better than we did,” Howren said.
South Tahoe drove into Reed territory on three first-half possessions, but each one ended with a turnover. Sophomore linebacker Buck Pershing kept the Vikings from being shut out in the first half when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
Reed (0-2) answered with its only touchdown following a Viking fumble midway through the second period. Jason Davis, who rushed for 113 first-half yards, slipped three tackles before breaking into the clear on his way to a 45-yard TD run.
The Vikings, however, never let Davis get going after halftime, holding him to minus 2 yards.
Reed attacked the Vikings head-on, seldom testing the perimeter of the Vikings’ defense that struggled against Bishop the week before.
“I thought they would go after us a little more on the outside, but that’s not their game,” Beavers said. “Most teams are going to play their own game and do what they practice.”