SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Fallon made the most of its first 12 plays on Friday.
The dozen plays were all it took for the Greenwave to reach six touchdowns in the first half of a 53-7 win at South Tahoe High School. Most of that can be attributed to Fallon’s relentless kick and punt returns, but the common theme of Friday night was Fallon’s run game. No matter return or drive scenario, Fallon’s runners found holes to punch through.
South Tahoe actually came out stronger than the lopsided score suggests. The Vikings took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter as excitement of a possible upset rippled through the South Tahoe crowd. The leading moment was brief, however, 10 seconds brief. Fallon had yet to hit its stride.
“We were a little sloppy in the beginning and a little sloppy at the end,” Fallon coach Brooke Hill said. “Three turnovers is way too many.”
The first of those turnovers came on the first play of the game. South Tahoe’s Kyle Miller recovered a Greenwave fumble on the Vikings’ 47.
The Vikings, however, returned the favor. After Jared Fajman connected with Brandon Erickson for a 35-yard pass, South Tahoe fumbled in Fallon’s red zone four plays later.
But South Tahoe got a second chance. Fallon went three-and-out on the recovery, and the Vikings started inching back on a slow drive of short carries that ate up the first quarter. Fajman was looking for an open receiver when the Vikings hit the 6-yard line, but Fallon’s defense parted and he ran down the middle for the touchdown.
It took 10 seconds for Fallon to even the score. Trent Tarner took the ball on a 47-yard touchdown run. Tarner, who ran for 165 yards on nine carries, and the Greenwave were just getting warmed up.
Cameron Matzen set up an insurance touchdown 30 seconds into the second quarter. He returned the Vikings next punt for 49 yards to put Fallon on South Tahoe’s 1. Tarner covered the final yard on the next play. Fallon was now up 14-7, and Matzen’s impressive punt return was a preview of more to come.
Tarner quickly found the end zone again on the first play of Fallon’s next possession. He spun out of South Tahoe’s grasp and ripped up the side of the field for a 48-yard touchdown.
“We kind of regressed in that second quarter. We played a really good first quarter and a half and then that second quarter just got away from us,” South Tahoe coach Kevin Hennessee said. “As soon as something bad happens, we seem to stop believing. Somehow we’ve got to believe and get past that quarter.”
Fallon continued to build on that second-quarter momentum.
Quarterback Morgan Dirickson connected with Matzen for a 48-yard touchdown to put Fallon up 28-7.
Defensive lineman Hunter Holcomb then recovered a South Tahoe fumble in the end zone, 34-7.
Matzen added another impressive punt return for 68 yards and another touchdown.
Fallon entered halftime leading 40-7, and South Tahoe regrouped.
The Vikings managed to reduce the Greenwave’s raging run-game to a trickle in the second half, but Matzen was still a big threat on returns. By the end of the night, Matzen amassed more than 200 yards in punt returns.
The sophomore wide receiver threaded through South Tahoe once again for a 77-yard touchdown off a punt return four minutes into the second half.
Fallon added its final touchdown with one minute remaining in the third.
Nathan Heck broke through South Tahoe’s defense first, covering 70 yards to hit South Tahoe’s end zone. The touchdown, however, did not count. There was a flag on the play back at the line of scrimmage.
But Fallon didn’t skip a beat. Junior running back Jake Ernst ran the ball 75 yards on the next play for the final touchdown.