Vikings serve notice that they are back
Only a week after winning its first prep football game in nearly three years, South Tahoe High emphatically served notice to the rest of the Sierra Division to count the Vikings in on the title chase.
The Vikings shocked 2002 regional runner-up Reno 21-20 by making the key plays late in the fourth quarter of the division opener for both schools Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.
“To beat Reno is a really big accomplishment for the South Tahoe program,” said Vikings’ senior running back Grant Swinney, who rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s big, especially for this year, because we can build off this. We had a lot of doubters that didn’t know what was going on and this shows them that we’re a good team.”
Swinney scored the game-tying touchdown with 3 minutes remaining, capping an eight-play drive that included third- and fourth-down conversions. Reliable thunder foot Matt Bobman struck the extra point through the uprights, sending a larger-than-usual STHS crowd into hysteria.
Reno aided the drive when three Huskies jumped offside on fourth and 1 with the Vikings at the Huskies’ 6.
“That’s our freeze call where we don’t snap it. I thought a good, disciplined team wouldn’t jump; it blew me away when they jumped,” said STHS coach Todd McIntyre.
The Huskies, however, didn’t whimper for long even with STHS supporters making more noise than usual with emphatic chants of “de-fense, de-fense.” Reno marched from their 20 to the Vikings’ 17, sending McIntyre from his perch atop the press box into the woods.
“I couldn’t even watch their drive,” McIntyre said. “I was still on the headphone with Steve Newell, asking him what was happening. They sure made it interesting.”
A delay-of-game infraction moved Reno back to the 22. Then junior defensive back Eric Domingo scooped up a Justin Deeter pass behind the line of scrimmage to end the Huskies’ hopes. Domingo also came through with a clutch interception at his 1 in the third quarter.
“It’s early, but it puts us in the hunt for a playoff position,” said McIntyre, enjoying the Vikings’ first home win since defeating Galena in the 2000 playoffs. “We knocked off one of the bigger teams. They were favored with Douglas to win the division.”
Reno (1-2) made a furious second-half comeback from an eight-point deficit. After holding the Vikings to six total yards on their first three drives after intermission, including an end zone interception, Reno used excellent field position to score late in the third quarter. Ryan McKinley’s 3-yard run on fourth down kept the drive alive, setting up Deeter’s 7-yard quarterback draw for six. Deeter found McKinley on the two-point conversion, tying the score at 14.
STHS began the final quarter in disastrous fashion, as junior quarterback Mikey Van Gorden’s flat pass was picked off by Jake Killeen and returned 30 yards for six. However, the Huskies faked the kick and were denied, leaving the score 20-14 Reno.
Even though Reno stopped the Vikings in their ensuing drive, a 36-yard completion to Spencer Dean gave the home team pivotal field position for their game-winning drive.
A block-in-the-back penalty wiped out a 50-yard run by Tom Barcia, but worse for the Huskies it buried them inside their 10. Following a couple of short runs, Kyle Jones caught Deeter on a backside blitz, prying the ball loose at the 5. Reno recovered but after the punt exchange STHS began its winning drive from the Huskies’ 40.
“It was roller-coaster ride,” Swinney said. “It was a great game because everything started to click for us … our defense was playing really well and our line was just doing a really good job. Everybody was contributing.”
STHS’s defensive front and linebacking crew of J.P. Foster, Justin McIntyre, Adam Fountain, Nate Sweeney, Eric Pacheco, Richie Giesen, Troy Radke, Jones and Nick Garratt bottled up the Huskies’ running game all afternoon. Reno rushed 30 times for 51 yards.
Swinney, who rushed for 275 yards against Reed the previous week, kept his legs pumping against Reno. He ran for 155 yards on 21 carries.
“Jose Rodriguez, Richie Geesen, Chris Thorne, Fountain, Justin Keys and Renne Rodriguez deserve a lot of credit. They are working their tails off,” Swinney said of his offensive line.
STHS (2-1, 1-0) plays at Wooster on Saturday.
SOUTH TAHOE 21, RENO 20
Reno 0 6 8 6 — 20
S. Tahoe 7 7 0 7 — 21
ST — Van Gorden 6 run (Bobman kick), 4:44
R–McKinley 78 pass from Hug (kick failed), 7:28
ST — Swinney 30 run (Bobman kick), 10:46
R — Deeter 7 run (McKinley pass from Deeter), 11:01
R — Killeen 30 interception return (run failed), :08
ST — Swinney 3 run (Bobman kick), 9:00
First downs 12/17
Passing yards 254/101
Kick returns 2-18/2-46
Punt returns 1-6/1-(-1)
Rushing — Reno, Barcia 4-16, Quinian 7-16, McKinley 4-12, Deeter 4-10, Broussard 1-1, Hug 8 (-3). South Tahoe, Swinney 21-155, Van Gorden 13-9.
Davis 15-111, Lammle 3-4, Smith 1-(-1), Mays 10-(-47).
Passing — Reno, Hug 4-9-0–165, Deeter 7-12-1–99. South Tahoe, Van Gorden 10-21-1–101.
Receiving — Reno, McKinley 5-120, Capozzo 2-25, Evans 1-63, Broussard 1-26, Barcia 1-24, Strawn 1-6. South Tahoe, Dean 3-48, Keys 3-31, Gomez 2-11, Griffin 2-11.
Field Goals — Bobman, 45-yard field goal attempt blocked.
JV: Reed 42-6.