South Tahoe football rolls past Sparks 49-19 in season opener
SPARKS, Nev. — The South Tahoe football team kicked off its 2016 campaign with a decisive win Friday night, Aug. 26. The Vikings found the end zone on six straight possessions en route to a 49-19 win at Sparks, emphatically notching their first season-opening win in five years.
“It’s awesome,” said Vikings senior quarterback Tommy Cefalu, who threw for five touchdowns in the win. “We haven’t seen it in a long time at the school and it feels great.”
South Tahoe (1-0 3A Northern) started slowly Friday night, fumbling on the second possession of the game and allowing the Railroaders to take a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a fourth-down pass from Nick Van Patten to Michael Anduja. After falling behind, the Vikings got rolling.
It took South Tahoe just four plays to drive 80 yards and take the lead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Cefalu to senior Noah Jackson. That score put the Vikings ahead 7-6 with 5:39 left in the opening frame, and was the first of six straight drives to reach the end zone.
After a three-and-out from Sparks (0-1), the Vikings needed two plays to extend their lead. Cefalu found junior McCallan Castles down the sideline for a 60-yard score, and a two-point conversion run from senior Dylan Gooding made it 15-6 with 3:09 to play in the first quarter.
The Railroaders found the end zone on the next possession with a 59-yard fourth-down run from Jorge Dominguez, but South Tahoe responded with a scoring drive of its own to go ahead 22-13. With 10:06 left in the second quarter, Cefalu punched it in from 2 yards out to cap off a nine-play, 80-yard drive.
Both teams traded scores on the next two drives. A 4-yard touchdown run from Van Patten closed South Tahoe’s lead to three with 4:20 left in the half, but the Vikings answered with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cefalu to Castles less than 90 seconds later to make it 28-19.
Toward the end of a back-and-forth first half, South Tahoe delivered the big defensive play — and took control of the game as a result. Vikings senior Robert Cage recovered a fumble near midfield with 1:09 left in the second quarter, and the visitors took advantage.
Cefalu completed passes to Gooding and Jackson on consecutive plays to put the ball at the 5-yard line. After a pair of incompletions and a penalty, Cefalu found Castles for a score for the third time in the opening half — the touchdown with 28.1 seconds left in the quarter gave South Tahoe a 35-19 lead headed into the break.
Two plays into the second half, Cefalu hit a wide-open Jackson down the middle of the field for a 64-yard score to turn the game into a rout. Senior Jacob Bernal added a 15-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, and South Tahoe’s defense kept Sparks off the scoreboard after halftime on the way to a 30-point victory.
Cefalu finished with five scores through the air and a rushing touchdown. Castles had 156 yards receiving and three touchdowns on five catches while Jackson caught four passes for 124 yards and a score — Bernal ran for a team-high 57 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Sparks had a different look at quarterback in each half — Van Patten had 40 yards passing, 50 yards rushing and two scores in the first two quarters while Kaige Lewis and Cody McAbee split time after the break. Dominguez had a game-high 121 yards rushing for the Railroaders.
South Tahoe returns to action Friday, Sept. 2, at Spring Creek (1-0) — the Spartans beat Lowry 45-7 on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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