Mustangs earn first Nevada 4A victory
If prep football was a game decided by the first team to score, South Tahoe would have a 2-1 record.
For the second straight game the Vikings (0-3) found the end zone before their opponent but couldn’t sustain that momentum, losing their Sierra Division game opener to Damonte Ranch on Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.
Shayne Jones burst into the clear on blocks by Miles Wallace, Abdiel Gonzalez and Jon Fagot, taking a belly play 85 yards for a score with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
But the Vikings’ 6-0 lead didn’t last long, as one versatile Mustang changed the game’s direction. Brian Walsh, a 155-pound junior, compiled 169 first-half all-purpose yards, including touchdown runs of 31 and 6 yards, as Damonte Ranch took a 21-6 halftime lead.
“Momentum is an interesting thing; it can just tear the heart out of a football program,” said STHS coach Mike Gorman. “This team needs momentum to continue to go.”
It was Damonte Ranch’s first victory over a Nevada 4A team in the school’s history after being forced to play JV and independent schedules in previous seasons because of thin numbers.
“Everybody got to taste that first victory at Damonte Ranch High School, so we’re fired up,” said Mustangs’ coach Tony Amantia. “It’s been real hard, because of not having any experience and not having anybody who has ever played varsity football.”
Walsh particularly hurt the Vikings with his punt returns, totaling 77 yards on his three returns. In addition, Walsh swiped a Tony Stagnaro pass and returned it 19 yards.
After STHS took a 6-0 lead, Walsh broke off 24 and 31-yard runs, the latter capping a three-play drive that put Damonte in front for good 7-6 with 6:56 to go in the first quarter. Walsh’s interception set up the Mustangs at the South Tahoe 21.
The Viking defense held its ground and nearly took over possession on downs, but a fourth-down pass interference penalty in the end zone gave the Mustangs a fresh set of downs on the STHS 14.
“I’m not gonna be one to challenge calls, because refs have a hard enough job as it is,” Gorman said. “But from a fan’s standpoint that was not pass interference. The ball was not catchable and their feet tangled.”
Three players later, Walsh swung around end untouched for a 6-yard score and a 13-6 Mustangs’ lead. Wallace blocked the extra point to keep the Vikings within seven points.
“He’s a playmaker for us, and we have to continue to find ways to get him the football,” Amantia said of Walsh, who finished with 115 rushing, 31 receiving and 77 return yards.
South Tahoe forced two second-quarter turnovers – a Chris Diana interception and a Clarence Grey fumble recovery – but couldn’t capitalize. Grey also recovered a second fumble later in the game.
With his offense struggling, free safety Matt Gardner gave the Mustangs a lift by returning a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Damonte a 21-6 lead 7:32 before halftime.
Damonte (1-2) was seriously threatened once in the second half when Stagnaro completed a long pass to Chris Klug to the Mustangs’ 10. But a penalty wiped out the gain, and the Mustangs used their power running attack to chew up most of the clock. A pair of 1-yard runs by Jack Brown highlighted the second-half scoring.
Gorman tried to stop the Mustangs’ rushing assault by stacking seven defenders near the line of scrimmage.
“Every single gap was covered, yet they ran it and they ran it,” Gorman said. “Defensively, the kids really go after the ball and really try, but the kids get tired because they are out there so much. Offensively, we have to get creative and go to something that works.”
South Tahoe only has three days to prepare for unbeaten Reno (3-0).
“We can’t put everything together in one weekend,” Gorman said. “This program is starving for a win. I’ve got to find a spark, something to get these kids excited.”
Warriors lose 20th straight game
Also on Saturday, the Silver Stage Nighthawks defeated Whittell 43-6 in a Northern 2A League game.
Whittell scored on a 10-yard pass from Roberto Concha-Foley to Curtis Humbird in the fourth quarter.
Concha-Foley finished 8-of-18 passing for 56 yards, while Humbird made six catches for 54 yards.
“They scored on a 45-yard run on the first play and it was kind of downhill from there,” said Whittell coach John Summers.
Whittell (0-3) plays host to Yerington on Saturday at 1 p.m.
DAMONTE RANCH 35, SOUTH TAHOE 6
Damonte Ranch 13 8 7 14 – 35
South Tahoe 6 0 0 0 – 6
ST- Jones 85 run (kick failed), 7:31
DR-Walsh 27 run (Bruns kick), 6:56
DR-Walsh 6 run (kick blocked by Wallace), 2:21
DR-Gardner 55 fumble return (Moon pass from Frank), 7:32
DR-Brown 1 run (Bruns kick), 11:57
DR-Brown 1 run (Bruns kick), 5:21
First downs 17 5
Rushes-yards 50-211 31-90
Passing 32 34
Comp-Att-Int 4-9-1 3-9-1
Kick Return yds 1-44 6-120
Punt Return yds 3-77 1-5
Punts-Avg. 2-33.5 7-27.1
Fumbles-Lost 5-2 3-2
Penalties-Yards 6-58 9-59
Passing – Damonte Ranch, Frank 4-9-1-32; South Tahoe, Stagnaro 3-9-1-34.
Rushing – Damonte Ranch 12-115, Brown 22-89, Barrett 4-32, Sheehan 5-14, Gardner 2-7, Ayala 1-0, Frank 4-(-46); South Tahoe, Jones 9-102, Klug 6-5, Diana 5-3, Stagnaro 10-(-15), Fonken 1-0.
Receiving – Damonte Ranch, Walsh 3-31, Sutkowi 1-1; South Tahoe, Klug 1-28, Diana 2-6.
Missed field goals – Bruns, 30-yard attempt.
JV score – Damonte Ranch 38-6.
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