On the board: South Tahoe football beats Lowry, delivers first win of Franklin era with rare shutout
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe football team felt the first win of the Louis Franklin era was long overdue. And on their home field Friday, Sept. 25, the Vikings delivered it in emphatic fashion.
South Tahoe rode a complete performance to a 27-0 victory over Lowry at Viking Stadium. The Vikings dominated the Buckaroos, picking up their first win under Franklin by pitching a shutout for the first time in a decade.
“It was a huge win for us,” Vikings senior Mason Cain said. “It was amazing.”
South Tahoe (1-4, 1-3 I-A Northern) set the tone on the game’s opening possession, forcing a fumble on the fourth play from scrimmage that Andrew Herrera pounced on. The Vikings took the ensuing drive for a score, methodically marching 43 yards in 11 plays to take a lead they would never relinquish.
A 13-yard pass from Cain to Noah Jackson in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal capped the drive and put South Tahoe ahead 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter. Cain came in for the last two plays to finish the drive after Tommy Cefalu left with an injury.
Lowry (0-4, 0-4) drove the ball into South Tahoe territory on the next possession, but turned it over on downs at 30-yard line — the closest the visitors would get to the end zone. With Cefalu back under center, South Tahoe extended its lead. A screen pass to Noah Jackson went for a 39-yard score and made it 14-0 with 10:38 left in the second quarter.
“It was all because of the line. If it wasn’t for the line, there’s no way I would have any chance of scoring,” Noah Jackson said. “I was just eying the end zone and thought I could get there.”
The Vikings took that 14-point lead into halftime, marking the fourth time in five games this season they were ahead at the break. But instead of letting its lead slip away, South Tahoe kept rolling on the way to a decisive victory.
“We came in the locker room and knew it wasn’t anything new,” Noah Jackson said. “We just had to keep our minds straight, keep going and keep pushing along — keep the gas pedal down.”
Both teams traded punts to start the second half before South Tahoe added to its lead. The Vikings drove 49 yards in three plays, and went ahead 20-0 when Darren Jackson turned a sweep into a 17-yard score with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
“We went into the third quarter and we actually stayed hyped,” Cain said.
South Tahoe punctuated its long-awaited victory with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Cefalu found Darren Jackson in the middle of the field, and the senior streaked through the Lowry defense for a 35-yard score that made it 27-0 with 9:06 to play.
The Vikings forced a turnover on downs on the next drive, and ran nearly seven minutes off the clock en route to the win. It was the program’s first shutout since a 52-0 win over Foresthill (Calif.) during the 2005 season.
“It feels great to get the first one out of the way and know that we can win,” Noah Jackson said. “Everyone put in work, and it was just a great team win.”
South Tahoe ran no-huddle offense for a majority of first three quarters, and it led to a season-high 421 yards. The Vikings ran for 229 yards in the victory, more than double their totals in each of the last three games. Quinn Ritter had a game-high 87 yards on eight carries.
“That’s how it needs to be the rest of the season — it has to be that fast,” Franklin said. “We’re going to wear good teams out that way.”
Cefalu finished 9-for-15 passing with 180 yards and two touchdowns against Lowry, while Cain threw for a score and ran for 36 yards in two possessions. Four receivers caught at least two passes for South Tahoe, and Noah Jackson led the team with 59 yards and two scores on three receptions.
“Good teams beat the teams they have to,” Franklin said. “I think we’re a good team, and we have to get another one next week.”
With Cain at linebacker for the second straight week, South Tahoe delivered its best performance of the season. The hosts kept the Buckaroos off the scoreboard while giving up a season-low 162 yards. Lowry quarterback Brady Lange completed 14-of-24 passes for 79 yards while Jacob Hernandez ran for a team-high 58 yards on 12 carries.
“It was just pursuit — everybody on the ball at once,” Vikings senior lineman Blair Binns said. “We practiced everything they threw at us. There were no surprises.”
The Vikings return to action at home next Friday, Oct. 2, against Wooster (2-3, 1-3). Kickoff for homecoming at Viking Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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