Vikings football rocks and rolls Dayton on homecoming
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It was a heavy metal beat down on a chilly Friday night at South Tahoe High School to celebrate the homecoming theme “Music through the Decades.”
South Tahoe channeled late 80s hard rock and fought fire with fire, rode the lightning, made Dayton’s hopes fade to black and, in the end, the Dust Devils had no escape, got trapped under the icy grip of the Vikings, and for whom the bell ultimately tolled.
South Tahoe rocked and rolled Dayton 33-7 in front of a packed house at Viking Stadium behind the Jake Tarwater-to-Kody Griffis connection.
Tarwater was a great front man for the Vikings throwing four touchdown passes, but Griffis was the true rockstar. He caught all four of those Tarwater scoring tosses, he intercepted a pass on defense and returned it 102 yards for a touchdown, although the return was called back due to a penalty, and, at halftime, he was crowned homecoming king.
Griffis’ night was going so well, they decided to let him throw the ball in the second half, but we’ll get to that.
The Vikings enjoyed sweet victory for the first time this season, earning win number one. It seemed like justice for all.
“I’m happy for the kids, they played good,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin. “They flew around and did a lot of good things. It was a long time coming.”
“To get a win, it means a lot. To come out here, I’m just excited to come play,” said Vikings senior linebacker Austin Rhodes. “I’m sad it’s almost over, just one more game, but it means a lot having this big crowd come watch us.”
Tarwater, Griffis, Rhodes and James Knudson were the power quartet of the band, although many players were instrumental in earning the victory.
South Tahoe grabbed the lead late in the first quarter. Tarwater, a sophomore, hit Griffis on 8-yard out capping a 16-play, 71-yard, 7-minute show of force.
Early in the second quarter, Knudson knifed through the middle of Dayton’s defense, diving through a tackle at the 2 to finish a 26-yard score.
Dayton drove to the South Tahoe four on the ensuing possession, but Griffis snared a pass in the endzone and turned it into a pick-six. A penalty eliminated the return, but the Vikings maintained possession.
And the battery continued.
Tarwater and Griffis hooked for another 8-yard score to make it 21-0 with three minutes left in the half and the Vikings would take that lead to the break.
Last week, the Vikings had a 2-point lead at the break and built it to 16 in the second half but couldn’t hold it.
“For sure, that’s all we talked about,” Franklin said. “Last week we played 17 minutes instead of 24 (in the second half). So tonight the key was going 24 minutes.”
South Tahoe scored on its opening drive of the second half. Tarwater hit Griffis for a 15-yard touchdown and a 27-0 lead at the end of the third quarter. Mason Hage hauled in two first-down receptions on the 76-yard drive.
Brandon Ruiz picked off a pass for the Vikings three plays later to get the offense back on the field.
But that’s how Dayton scored its points.
South Tahoe went into its bag of tricks and had Griffis throw a wide receiver reverse pass. But the timing was off and when Griffis threw the ball, he really had to heave it and it came up short. It was intercepted and returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
“We worked as a team for a whole game and that’s what it takes to win,” Griffis said. “Our defense played great, it didn’t allow a score. I threw a pick 6, that’s not on them. But it was fun. I love winning. I don’t care how it’s done.”
Griffis got that back, and then some, on the next drive.
Tarwater threw a beautiful pass to the corner of the endzone here Griffis out-wrestled the defender for a 26-yard touchdown.
Griffis finished with 12 catches for 150 yards and Tarwater completed 18 of 31 passes for 194 yards. Knudson rushed for 83 yards on 12 carries, Kaden Leake had 47 yards on 11 attempts and Hage had five receptions for 42 yards.
The South Tahoe defense allowed just 188 total yards, 50 rushing.
“The QB has the freedom to go where he feels comfortable and he and Kody obviously have built a strong rapport,” Franklin said. “I don’t know what they did tonight but I’m sure it was pretty big. Jake is getting so much better. I know he’s killing himself because he missed a couple of easy ones, but he’s gonna do good things. That’s fun that we still get him for another two years.”
The Vikings win going away was especially satisfying after not holding the lead last week.
“We picked it up and brought it to our own field — we had to pick it up for homecoming game,” Rhodes said. “After last week, a football game is 48 minutes and we played about 45 last week. I’d say we played 48 minutes tonight. It was a good win, everybody’s happy.”
The celebration didn’t get too crazy, there’s a rivalry game coming to the South Shore next week. The Vikings (1-8, 1-7 3A Northern league) will host the Truckee Wolverines (8-1, 7-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s nice to see that they’re focused,” Franklin said. “They weren’t satisfied because they know they have a big game next week and that was really nice to see. We’re maturing.”
South Tahoe game notes: Colby Glaze made a tackle for loss of four yards that nearly resulted in a safety. … Freshman Leif Ferrier recovered a fumble that led to the third touchdown. … Kai Collin snagged an interception late in the fourth quarter to seal the dominating defensive effort.
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