South Tahoe starts fast, hangs on to beat Lowry on homecoming
After missing all but eight plays in the last two games, Mccallan Castles is back. South Tahoe’s star receiver hauled in a long touchdown pass on the first play of the game then used every bit of his 6-foot-5 frame to earn a first down late to seal the Vikings’ 42-29 homecoming victory over the Lowry Buckaroos.
Fans stuffed the aluminum bleachers and stood around the perimeter fence. They sat in folding chairs on the hillside and the road heading down to the stadium. The snack shack always had mob of people.
And Castles and quarterback Peyton Galli connected right away to stoke the fire of the packed house that was already in party mode.
Galli grabbed the snap, looked to Castles and fired a deep bomb down the visitor’s sideline. Castles hauled in the pass at the Lowry 20 then shrugged off a tackle attempt and galloped into the endzone to give the Vikings the lead 12 seconds into the game.
The student body started chanting, “This is our house! This is our house!”
“We got the play call, and it was one on one and I’m gonna take Cali every time,” Galli said.
“As soon as they (Lowry) went press coverage, Coach (Louis Franklin) gave me the go and right then I knew I was scoring,” Castles said. “The pass was perfect, right on the money, but I wasn’t warmed up yet completely so I had to slow down after I caught it and toss that kid. It was a great way to start the game.”
That started the Vikings rolling.
Jakob Costley intercepted a pass to end Lowry’s first possession.
Four plays later, Galli fired a dart to Matt Cain in the middle of the field. Cain grabbed the pass and sprinted the last 15 yards of a 35-yard scoring play to make it 14-0.
The Vikings defense stuffed Lowry on a short fourth down try on the next possession and the offense took just three plays to score again.
Costley took a handoff from Galli and weaved his way through Buckaroo defenders on his way to a 36-yard touchdown.
South Tahoe led 21-0 just over seven minutes into the game.
After Jackson Binnes stuffed Lowry ball carrier Victor Rosas for a 2-yard loss to force a punt, the Buckaroos got a break when the Vikings fumbled at their own 27.
Lowry capitalized a few plays later to make it 21-7 after the first quarter.
South Tahoe went right back on the attack with Costley rushing for 20 of his 100 yards on the night to set up another score.
Galli hit Castles for a 5-yard strike to make it 28-7.
Lowry countered with a 42-yard Rosas run to pull within 28-14, but South Tahoe answered in seconds.
Galli hit Tyler Wattanchinda for a 61-yard touchdown. Galli fired a pass over the middle to Wattanchinda who grabbed the 25-yard pass and did the rest with his legs.
The Vikings again led by three touchdowns. Galli, who was crowned king at halftime and played that way on the field, completed all eight of his passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns to help build that lead.
He ended up completing 19 of 32 passes for 346 yards.
“It was an unbelievable first half,” Galli said. “But we’ve gotta come out stronger in the second. We’re a great team but we got comfortable tonight. We just need to bring it.”
After a punt late in the half pinned the Vikings at their own 3, the Buckaroos were able to earn a safety and make it 35-16 at halftime.
Lowry then scored two straight touchdowns to make what once was a blowout into a nail biter. The Buckaroos scored early in the third quarter after the Vikings lost a fumble near midfield and scored again on a 49-yard pass with just under five minutes left in the game to make it 35-29.
They were marching another time but Brady Overhaus and Kody Griffis forced a timely turnover. With the Buckaroos on the Vikings’ 14, Overhaus tipped a pass that Griffis plucked out of the air for an interception.
Castles made another possible game-saving play on an onside kick where he leaped, it seemed 15 feet in the air, and made the catch to keep possession.
Ahead by just six, with 4:27 on the clock and no momentum on their side, the Vikings marched 56 yards to put the game away.
Galli hit Cain for 23 yards and Castles for 9. Costley ran for 12.
But the biggest play came with just over a minute. On fourth-and-6 from the Lowry 9, Galli hit Castles with a short pass, short of the first down. But Castles twisted away from tackle attempts and stretched his arm forward for the required distance.
Galli scored on the next play to finish the scoring.
“Mccallan, he makes the offense go,” said Franklin, the Vikings head coach. “On the onside kick, I don’t know how high he jumped and we needed all 6-foot-5 of him on that last play down by the goal line. They did a good job covering him, but he, is, one, big, boy. He’s definitely a player.”
Castles and Cain were a deadly combination on the outside. Castles finished with eight catches for 135 yards and Cain had 129 yards also on eight receptions.
“We came out strong and finished strong, but the second and third quarter we started to feel a little stand byish because we thought we had a cushy lead,” Castles said. “But we’re gonna work on that and keep competitive in practice.”
“The first half was good offensively, we were clicking,” Franklin said. “Defensively, we’re giving up too many big plays. We didn’t come out as aggressive in the second half and we struggled to get in rhythm and defensively we just didn’t tackle like we normally do. We shouldn’t have given up so many big plays, but credit to them.”
The Vikings (2-3 3A Northern League) have one more home game left on their schedule and that is next Friday, Oct. 7, against Wooster.
Cain, a senior, appreciated seeing the stands full and actually hearing the support.
“I usually don’t hear the crowd but tonight I did,” Cain said. “It was awesome, a great turnout. It’s really cool to see the support the community gives us.”