South Tahoe football gives inspired effort in loss
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The result may have been the same, but the sound of the game was different.
South Tahoe lost its fifth straight football game Friday night and it was made more difficult because the Vikings had every chance to earn their first victory.
Misfortune, untimely turnovers and a bad snap submarined a ferocious, physical defensive effort and the Vikings lost 18-6 to the visiting Fernley Vaqueros.
“It was a very winnable game, but we literally gave it away,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin. “Two fumbles that we just kinda coughed up, a safety, a ball hit us on a punt and we gave up an onside kick, that’s five extra possessions we gave them. And when our defense is playing that well, we shouldn’t have to give them five extra possessions.”
The Vikings defense had been hurt by opposing rushing attacks through the first four weeks, but stood up strong and physically stuffed the Vaqueros. Helmets smashing and pads cracking, sounds missing in the Vikings first two home games, echoed throughout the stadium.
“We were more physical tonight, probably our most physical game of the season,” said junior lineman Hilario Nunez. “We’ve switched people around trying to find where everybody fits best and I think we put them in the right holes. I hope we keep playing this way.”
South Tahoe surrendered one long drive to Fernley and it resulted in just three points. The Vikings helped the Vaqueros score the rest of their points by supplying generous field position.
The Vikings haven’t enjoyed the lead to often this season, but they went ahead in the first quarter.
Quarterback Jake Tarwater completed five of his first seven passes, including a 28-yard scoring strike to his favorite target Kody Griffis. The senior receiver battled with the defender for the ball that popped loose and looked like it would fall incomplete. But it fell into Griffis’ arms as he fell to the ground in the endzone for a 6-0 lead with 4:51 left in the opening quarter.
Fernley answered with an 8-play, 37-yard drive that ended in a 39-yard field goal to make it 6-3 with 8:27 left in the half.
The Vaqueros drive ended with Colby Glaze stuffing a Fernley ball carrier for a 3-yard loss, one of eight tackles for loss by the Vikings defense, including two sacks by Austin Rhodes, one that caused a fumble.
“We’re getting healthier, we’re getting more experience and they’re playing with a little more confidence,” Franklin said. “The younger guys are stepping it up and that’s fun.”
But things went south for Tahoe on its next possession.
The Vikings were called for consecutive holding penalties and on the next play lost a fumble at their own 14.
Fernley punched it into the endzone, with help from a personal foul penalty, to take the lead, 10-6, for good in just under six minutes left in the first half.
The score remained the same until late in the third quarter. South Tahoe lined up for a punt at its own 12 and the snap sailed out of the endzone for a safety to make it 12-6.
The Vikings never again threatened the Fernley endzone. The line had difficulty slowing the pass rush and the offense couldn’t put much of anything together.
“We’ve gotta execute a little bit better up front because 11 (Tarwater) was getting hit way too much,” Franklin said. “We took a couple of steps back tonight with our pass protection.”
“We need to play for our seniors that are playing in their last year and our quarterback,” Nunez said. “As a junior, I need to take more leadership on this team.”
Tarwater completed 12 of 25 passes for 116 yards. He was also sacked five times for minus-31 yards. Kody Griffis hauled in seven passes for 90 yards and Gio Medina Morales ran for a 10-yard gain and was the team’s leading rusher.
The Vikings (0-5, 0-4 Northern League) will head back to practice and work on putting a complete game together and get some wins in the second half of the season.
They have a tall task in welcoming undefeated Churchill County to the South Shore next Friday night. The Greenwave are 4-0 and the Vikings will have a chance to spoil their unbeaten run.
“The team is getting healthy and at practice you’d never know our record,” Franklin said. “Our goal is to go 1-0 next week and they’re gonna show up tomorrow and be ready and that’s why I love coaching these guys, they’re a great group of kids.”