South Tahoe football starts fast, holds off furious Fallon comeback in 38-30 win | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Tahoe football starts fast, holds off furious Fallon comeback in 38-30 win

Anthony Gentile
agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
South Tahoe senior Jacob Bernal applies the stiff-arm to a Fallon defender in a 3A Northern League game Friday, Sept. 16, at Viking Stadium.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe football team took a commanding 32-point lead over Fallon on the first play of the fourth quarter Friday night, Sept. 16. For the next 12 minutes, the Vikings had to hold on as the Greenwave mounted a furious comeback.

In the end, South Tahoe delivered a 38-30 victory over Fallon in a 3A Northern League contest at Viking Stadium. The victory wasn’t secure until senior Jacob Bernal recovered an onside kick with 20 seconds to play, allowing the Vikings to run out the clock.

“We just had to keep playing as a team and make sure everyone’s heads stayed up,” Vikings senior Robert Cage said. “We got too excited and we thought the game was already over.”

After a scoreless start, South Tahoe (3-1 3A Northern) found the end zone twice in the second quarter with a pair of 22-yard passes from junior Peyton Galli to senior Robert Cage. The Vikings had a 15-0 lead at halftime, and added to it after the break.

South Tahoe turned the opening drive of the third quarter into points when senior Noah Jackson hit a 22-yard field goal to make it 18-0. Cage intercepted Fallon’s Christian Nemeth on the next possession, and five plays later Jackson ran for a 13-yard score that put the Vikings ahead 25-0 with 4:52 left in the frame.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bernal punched it in from 2 yards out to give South Tahoe a commanding 32-0 lead. The Vikings appeared on their way to a lopsided win, but Fallon (2-2) had other ideas.

The Greenwave scored four touchdowns in the final 10:54 behind a comeback orchestrated by backup quarterback Conner Nelson. South Tahoe answered Fallon’s first score of the game with a 44-yard touchdown from Bernal that made it 38-8 with 9:45 to play, then had to hang on for victory.

Fallon scored on the next play from scrimmage, a 69-yard touchdown run from Cade Vercellotti — that and a two-point conversion made it 38-16. South Tahoe fumbled near midfield on its next play, and the Greenwave found the end zone again.

The visitors drove 46 yards in 10 plays, eventually scoring when Nelson scrambled and found Sean McCormick for a 5-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. South Tahoe stopped the ensuing two-point conversion try, but the score cut the Vikings’ lead to 38-22 with 5:38 left.

South Tahoe ran four minutes off the clock on the next possession before giving the ball back to Fallon on downs at its 25-yard-line. The Greenwave quickly drove down the field, and found the end zone with 22 seconds left on a double reverse pass from Nelson to Brock Uptain.

Vercellotti then ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 38-30. Fallon pulled within a possession, but Bernal came down with the ensuing onside kick to end the comeback — and deliver victory for the Vikings.

South Tahoe ran for 252 yards Friday night, led by power running from Bernal. The senior finished with 172 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries — including 139 yards in the second half.

Galli finished 6-of-12 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns in his second straight start at quarterback for injured senior Tommy Cefalu. Jackson took 18 direct snaps as part of a wildcat package, and totaled 69 yards on 15 touches between quarterback, running back and receiver.

Fallon finished with 333 yards of offense after being held to 109 through the first three quarters. Vercellotti rushed for a game-high 195 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries while Nelson accounted for 100 yards of offense and two scores at quarterback in the fourth quarter.

The win moved South Tahoe into fourth place in the 3A Northern League standings, a game ahead of Fallon. The Vikings sit behind undefeated Elko, Spring Creek and Truckee, all 4-0 through the first four weeks of league play.

The Vikings return to action Friday, Sept. 23, at Lowry (0-4) — the Buckaroos lost at Wooster 41-26 on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.