Tough opening loss for Vikings
South Tahoe High was so close to a program-healing victory that the Viking spirit leaders were doing more pushups than cheers.
Three times in the first half the Vikings built a 17-point lead against visiting Bishop, Calif., with each score compounding their No. 1 cheering section’s obligatory pushup totals.
But the Broncos and their third-year coach Bill Egan know something about overcoming long odds. Helping Tommy Moe beat the favored Austrians to win downhill gold and super-G silver medals at the 1994 Winter Games, the former U.S. Ski Team coach’s prize pupil shocked the world.
On Saturday, Egan’s Broncos settled for stunning a small community trying to rebuild past football glory by outscoring the Vikings 28-7 over the final 18 minutes for a thrilling 42-38 season-opening victory.
“To the coaches we didn’t lose. We played a real good game,” said South Tahoe senior offensive lineman Jose Rodriguez. “We wanted to get that W, not just for us, but to show the community and show all these other teams that we’re coming for them.”
Viking senior running back Grant Swinney and senior receiver Dan Gomez helped the Vikings take a 31-14 lead, combining for four touchdowns in 27 minutes.
But Bishop junior Dylan Beaman decided to turn the game into a track meet as he ran the Viking losing streak to 20 games. First off, Beaman raced outside Viking containment for a 56-yard touchdown. Next, subbing for injured quarterback Matt Duncan, the 5-foot-9 Beaman tossed a 14-yard TD strike to Cody Himes. Finally, Beaman, returning to his normal position, took a pitch from Duncan and outran the Vikings down the sideline for an 87-yard TD that gave the Broncos the only lead they needed.
“These guys have come a long ways,” said STHS head coach Todd McIntyre. “But it’s a disappointing loss, no doubt. We had many opportunities to bury them and take them out of the game. We just have to fix some of the problems and hope they hang in there. And I’m sure they will.
“I think they see potentially what this team can be all about. I know for the seniors that is probably one of the better games they have ever played.”
Points came so freely at the start of the fourth quarter that not a soul dared to leave Viking Bowl early to catch the start of the college game of the day between Florida and Miami. In a span of 2 minutes, 23 seconds, the teams combined for four touchdowns, including an 89-yard kick return by Gomez.
“It was unbelievably fun. When I was coaching in junior college, we used to have games like this all the time,” Egan said. “When the touchdowns start coming, they start coming really fast and you kind of lose control of the game.”
Beaman finished with a career-high 258 yards rushing and three touchdowns to spoil McIntyre’s STHS head coaching debut. The Broncos tested the Vikings inside early, but soon discovered that the home team was most vulnerable on the defensive perimeter.
“They were stuffing the heck out of our trap … we couldn’t run inside at all,” Egan said. “So we just kept probing inside a little bit and then pop it outside. Normally we got them overpenetrating or coming too hard inside and then we really got outside them.”
The Vikings’ corners weren’t coming up to stop the run, either, adding to the Broncos’ quick-strike potential.
“He’s fast and a pretty good athlete, but we just had some confusion in the secondary and I’m going to blame myself, too … I should have come faster around the ends to the help the corners and safeties bring in more toward me so I could make a tackle or hep them make a tackle,” said junior linebacker Nick Garratt.
Added junior defensive back Haven Wilvers, “We practiced their stuff all week, but then they started doing stuff that we didn’t see, so that just kind of messes you up and you get a little lost not knowing what to do.”
STHS’s best chance to reclaim the lead came inside the 5-minute mark when a short punt set up the Vikings at midfield. Van Gorden escaped a rush to move the Vikings 2 yards closer but two incomplete passes brought on fourth down. Sensing the game slipping away, McIntyre elected to gamble by going for the first down.
Van Gorden’s fourth-down pass missed the mark.
“I thought if we could keep the ball out of their hands … because the last few
possessions they were breaking some long ones,” McIntyre said.
The Vikings got the ball back once more at their own 20. A pair Van Gorden rushes and a Swinney carry for 5 yards advanced the Vikings to their own 39. But Van Gorden underthrew an intended receiver, enabling — who else? — Beaman to step in and make a game-clinching interception at the Bronco 44.
“This is the first time I remember having a comeback this big,” said Bishop senior Marco Muro, who caught three passes for 45 yards. “There is always a breaking point in a game. We never gave up. It was unbelievable.”
Swinney, running behind Garratt, Richard Giesen, Jose Rodriguez, Chris Thorne and Renne Rodriguez, dominate the first quarter with 116 yards. His touchdown runs of 80 and 11 yards and a 38-yard field goal by Matt Bobman gave the Vikings a 17-0 lead.
“In the first half, they were scraping, watching out for the pass. But in the second half they saw what we did and came out and prepared for the run,” said Jose Rodriguez.
Gomez, who equaled Beaman’s three-touchdown total, also scored on 46-and 38-yard touchdown receptions.
STHS (0-1) plays at Reed in a nonleague game Friday night in Sparks.
BISHOP 42, SOUTH TAHOE 38
Bishop 7 7 7 21 — 42
S. Tahoe 17 7 7 7 — 38
ST — Bobman 38 field goal, 3:52
ST — Swinney 80 run (Bobman kick), 6:44
ST — Swinney 11 run (Bobman kick), 10:52
B — Beaman 56 run (Hopkins kick), 11:58
ST — Gomez 38 pass from Van Gorden (Bobman kick), 8:55
B — Himes 37 pass from Duncan (Hopkins kick), 10:43
ST — Gomez 46 pass from Van Gorden (Bobman kick), 3:05
B — Beaman 56 run (Hopkins kick), 5:41
B — Himes 14 pass from Beaman (Hopkins kick), :07
ST — Gomez 89 kick return (Bobman kick), :23
B — Chavez 32 pass from Duncan (Hopkins kick), :57
B — Beeman 87 run (Hopkins kick), 2:23
First downs 19/11
Passing yards 278/140
Kick returns 4-99/7-225
Punt returns 0-0/3-15
Rushing — Bishop, Beaman 20-258, Himes 2-22, Muro 3-6, Hopkins 4-5, Duncan
6-(-24). South Tahoe, Swinney 19-154, Van Gorden 16-30.
Passing — Bishop, Duncan 12-23-0–225, Beaman 2-3-0–53. South Tahoe, Van Gorden
Receiving — Bishop, Himes 5-135, Beaman 5-66, Muro 3-45, Chavez 1-32. South
Tahoe, Griffin 3-56, Gomez 2-84.
Field Goals — Bishop, Hopkins missed 40 field goal. South Tahoe, Bobman made 38