Vikings force double OT in opening loss
The Vikings went out fighting Friday in a 40-34 loss as they pushed their home opener into double overtime before being slapped with a pass interference call on a would-be touchdown in the final drive of the game.
When El Dorado High School missed the point after touchdown in the second overtime it opened the door for the Vikings to grab the win. All seemed to be according to plan when Kyante Wilson broke free and snagged a touchdown pass on the second down.
The Viking’s momentum, however, came crashing down when a flag was thrown on the play for offensive pass interference and the touchdown was retracted.
“Kyonte’s so big and strong that when he goes up for a ball or goes to create space for himself kids get out of the way,” athletic director Doug Russell said. “After looking at film, Kyonte ran a great route. He did exactly what we coach. It’s just too bad the flag was thrown.”
The game was tantalizingly within reach throughout the night. After some defensive adjustments, the Vikings trailed 15-12 at halftime, but the team started to run out of steam in the third quarter. As the second half progressed, El Dorado widened the gap.
“We had a moment somewhere in the third quarter when it started to slip away and, for whatever reason, the kids got it in their heads that they weren’t going to let it slip away,” head coach Kevin Hennessee said. “That hasn’t always been the case in the past.”
With eight minutes left on the clock, and now trailing by16, the Vikings refused to give up. Quarterback John Cefalu rallied the team with a drive that brought the score within eight.
The Vikings then went for the onside kick with five minutes to go, but it didn’t cover the 10 yards and El Dorado started running down the clock.
When South Tahoe High School finally got the ball back, there was 1 minute, 20 seconds, remaining and Cefalu didn’t have much time. Despite the pressure, the quarterback put together yet another drive with a big third-down conversion to Cale Backinger down the seam. Cefalu then faked to Wilson, leaving Brandon Kramer free to haul in a 30-yard touchdown on a fingertip catch.
Backinger pulled in the tying two-point conversion with 30 seconds to go and the Vikings had done it. They’d kicked open the crack in the door and the Cougar crowd fell silent as the game went into overtime.
“I’ve coached here for 24 years, and John had one of the best nights of any quarterback I’ve coached, and we’ve had some good quarterbacks here over the years,” offensive coordinator Todd McIntyre said.
All totaled, Cefalu went 15 for 30 with 330-passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Vikings then headed into overtime, but their fourth-quarter momentum seemed to stay behind. In their first possession they fumbled on the snap, turning the ball over to El Dorado.
The defense went to work, however, and the damage was contained as El Dorado stalled on the 15-yard line with a missed field goal.
When South Tahoe then blocked the point after touchdown on El Dorado’s opening touchdown drive it looked like the Vikings could take it. That was until the flag was thrown and the touchdown retracted, and the Vikings packed off the field trying to retain the good moments in a well-fought game.
“It was just too bad it had to end that way,” MacIntyre said. “Let the kids settle the game at that point.”
The Vikings will get another chance Friday as they travel to take on Fernley High School at 7 p.m.
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