Deep passes sink Vikings in 34-25 loss at Wooster

Anthony Gentile

RENO, Nev. — Big passing plays on Friday night kept the South Tahoe football team from notching its first victory of the season. The Vikings couldn’t stop Wooster in the air, negating an otherwise strong performance in a 34-25 loss to the Colts.

“This is the hardest loss to take, no question,” Vikings head coach Kevin Hennessee said. “Collectively as a group, we know we should have won that game.”

South Tahoe (0-6, 0-5 I-A Northern) struck first Friday night game, opening the scoring in the last minute of the first quarter with a 3-yard run from Quinton Ritter. The Vikings stopped Wooster (2-4, 1-4) on its first three drives and had a 6-0 lead after the opening quarter.

In the second quarter, the Colts got their passing game going to get on the board. With 7:55 left in the half, Wooster quarterback Hunter Triplett connected with receiver Ryan Gage for a 37-yard touchdown that made it 6-6 — that score was the first of seven Colts’ passing plays that went for 30 yards or more.

“They never drove 80 yards — everything was a (long) pass where somebody got beat,” Hennessee said. “It was crazy.”

After a pair of punts, South Tahoe made its own big play through the air to go back in front. Vikings quarterback Mason Cain connected with receiver Kirby David over the middle, and David broke two tackles on the way to a 37-yard touchdown that made the score 12-6 with 1:15 left in the half.

David’s touchdown catch gave South Tahoe the lead and momentum — but both were short-lived. On the third play of the next drive, Triplett launched a deep pass to receiver Chris Greco for a 72-yard touchdown with 21 seconds left — Wooster took a 13-12 led into the break.

Wooster received to start the second half, and drove 75 yards in nine plays to go ahead 20-12. A 4-yard touchdown pass from Triplett to Greco capped the drive with 8:16 left in the third quarter — a 40-yard completion on third-and-long kept it alive.

The Colts scored again late in the third quarter, needing only three plays to march 74 yards and take a two-possession lead. Triplett found Greco in the end zone on an 11-yard fade route with 2:30 left in the quarter, a score that preceded completions of 30 and 33 yards.

Trailing 27-12 at the start of the fourth quarter, South Tahoe began its rally. The comeback started with a 1-yard run from Dylan Gardner that made it a nine-point game with 10:32 remaining.

“The great thing was we never gave up,” Hennessee said. “We battled all the way to the end and we kept trying to make plays.”

Later in the quarter, a Wooster fumble gave the Vikings the ball at the Colts’ 6-yard line — and they scored two plays later to make it 27-25. Cain found the end zone on a sneak from a yard out to bring South Tahoe within two points with 4:25 left.

With the Vikings on the verge of completing their comeback, Wooster again took to the air to secure the victory. The Colts completed passes of 35 and 37 yards on the ensuing drive, which eventually led to a 4-yard touchdown pass from Triplett to receiver Alex Parrott that iced the game with 30 seconds left.

“It came down to four deep passes — that was the difference in the game,” Hennessee said. “It was technique — it was lousy DB play on our part and that’s my fault. I didn’t prepare them to do it right.”

In the loss, Cain went 13-of-28 passing for 234 yards and a touchdown. David and receiver Will Mori each topped the 100-yard mark — Mori had 105 yards on three catches and David finished with 100 yards on three receptions.

On the ground, South Tahoe’s backs ran for a season-high 96 yards against Wooster. Garnder had a game-high 77 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and Ritter finished with 19 yards.

“We got the running game going, we were moving the ball — the offensive line did a good job protecting,” Hennessee said. “We made some plays — we spread it around the way we wanted to.”

Wooster had 403 yards of offense in its first league victory of the season — and all but six came in the passing game. Triplett finished 23-of-32 for 397 yards and five touchdowns — Greco had 160 yards receiving and three touchdowns, while Gage hauled in 10 passes for 138 yards and a score.

“They were just chucking it up,” Hennessee said.

South Tahoe returns to action Friday night, when it hosts Dayton (4-2, 3-2) for its annual Homecoming game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Vikings’ JV, frosh teams notch first league wins

The South Tahoe junior varsity and freshman football teams both defeated Wooster for their first league victories of the season. For the Vikings’ frosh, the victory was their first of 2014 after three defeats to open the campaign.

In the junior varsity game Friday, the Vikings rolled to a 51-26 victory over the Colts. The win improved South Tahoe to 2-4 on the season and ended a four-game losing streak.

“We’ve been putting together pretty good halves, but didn’t play a complete game until Friday night,” Vikings JV head coach Doug Russell said. “We jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.

South Tahoe led 21-7 at halftime, and answered a pair of Wooster touchdowns to start the second half to stay in front. Quarterback Tommy Cefalu threw three touchdowns in the win — a pair to Zen Contestable that included an 80-yarder, a 60-yard strike to receiver Noah Jackson. On the ground, running back Dylan Gooding ran for three touchdowns and back Jacob Bernal added a score.

In the freshman game Thursday night, South Tahoe beat Wooster 12-8 for its first win of the season. Khale Lexa and Denver Orr each scored for the Vikings in the victory.

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