Vikings edge Sparks 10-7 for second win of season
SPARKS, Nev. — The South Tahoe football team won its first road game in two years Friday night — and it didn’t come easy. The Vikings beat winless Sparks 10-7, taking the lead on a field goal early in the fourth quarter and hanging on for their second win of the season.
“It was huge for us — it was a huge confidence booster,” Vikings head coach Kevin Hennessee said.
South Tahoe (2-7, 2-6 I-A Northern) kicked the game-winning field goal with 11:10 left in the fourth quarter to cap one of its best drives of the season. Will Mori’s 28-yard kick from the right hash split the uprights on the 15th play of a seven-minute drive the Vikings began at their own 2-yard line.
“We went 90-something yards without turning the ball over or making a mistake,” Hennessee said. “I was thinking we should go for it and the assistants kept saying, ‘Coach, kick the field goal and we’ll win the game.’ They said it enough to where I processed it — and we kicked it.”
After the field goal, the Vikings made two stops to secure the victory. With 1:54 left, Sparks (0-8) narrowly missed a potential game-tying 38-yard field goal — the Railroaders’ kicker slipped and the ball fell just short of the crossbar.
“We had some mistakes,” Hennessee said. “We managed through it though.”
Both teams were tied at halftime after trading touchdowns in the first two quarters. South Tahoe opened the scoring with a 32-yard pass from quarterback Mason Cain to receiver Kirby David with 4:08 left in the first quarter — David caught the throw near the sideline and made three Railroaders miss on the way to the end zone.
With 1:17 in the second quarter, Sparks tied the game with an 85-yard touchdown run from running back Hunter O’Meara. The Railroaders picked off Cain in South Tahoe territory on the ensuing possession, but didn’t get closer than the 25-yard line before time expired.
The third quarter ended with the score still tied 7-7 and the Vikings in the midst of their eventual game-winning drive. For South Tahoe, the win ended an eight-game road losing streak that spanned two seasons — the Vikings’ last victory away from home came Oct. 12, 2012 at Sparks.
“We did not get a road win last year — it’s been a whole season since we’ve had a road win,” Hennessee said. “That was important, and it always makes those bus rides more fun.”
Cain finished 17-of-30 passing for 220 yards with a touchdown and interception in the win. The junior eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for the season, bringing his season total to 2,170 yards.
“There were a lot of doubters that didn’t think he was going to be able to do it,” Hennessee said. “We’re on our fifth combination of offensive linemen this season — and to be able to do it with that many different combos makes it even more incredible.
“We’ve been able to do some things offensively that we didn’t think we were going to be able to do.”
David caught seven passes for 145 yards and a touchdown against the Railroaders — he was one of five South Tahoe receivers to make at least two receptions. On the ground, running back Dylan Gardner ran for 83 yards on 29 carries.
The Vikings held Sparks to 171 yards on Friday night despite missing three starters — nearly half of those yards came on O’Meara’s second-quarter touchdown run. Railroaders quarterback Sylis Sanchez went 1-for-8 with minus-7 yards passing.
“Outside of one play, the defense just did an amazing job,” Hennessee said.
South Tahoe hosts rival Truckee in the Sierra Bowl on Friday night to conclude the regular season. Kickoff at Viking Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.