The Greenwave varsity football team handed South Tahoe its fourth loss of the season Friday with a victory over the Vikings 28-6.
Fallon Coach Brooke Hill cited South Tahoe as a better football team that he believed would be a “tremendous challenge” for the Wave to keep their winning streak going. Fortunately, the Wave repeated and improved upon its performance against Wooster the previous week with a series of key interceptions and impressive runs that gave the Vikings their first loss to a team that isn’t undefeated in the season.
Though the final score and overall performance of the Wave was clear they would not be slowed down, the first quarter may have given fans other inclinations, ending at 0-0 with neither offensive line able to break for a first down, let alone get in the end zone. This is no surprise considering the Wave’s blockers and the Vikings’ consistent sacks on junior quarterback Connor Richardson.
The definite turning point of the match came at the opening the second half when junior wide receiver Connor Nelson ran back the Viking’s kickoff 88-yards for a touchdown as the first play of the quarter.
“It was a really great run,” Nelson said. “I’ve got to give it to my teammates though, they kind of made that happen. Honestly the biggest block of (the kickoff return) was right at the end when Cade Vercellotti leveled a kid into another kid, and that kid was probably going to catch me honestly, so he really sprung that one for me.”
Nelson pointed out the irony that just last week it was Vercellotti who returned the opening kickoff of the game when the Wave dominated Wooster, though this game against the Vikings had no immediate luck.
“We struggled a little bit in the first half and then we turned it around with our running game,” said Nelson. “This was a really good statement game for us, because we knew if we could jump on them soon, get a big lead, shut them out, score a lot, then we would send a message to the league saying “Hey, we’re for real here. We’re not messing around this year.”’
When it seemed like Vikings senior Darren Jackson would make a catch at the 20-yard line for the first touchdown of the game, he was brought down by Wave senior Aaron Bitter who had a great tackling game and ended the first quarter scoreless.
Bitter was consistent and surprising throughout the game, with an interception in the second quarter (the first of the Wave’s several interceptions of the game) and a catch at the 2-yard line a minute later that lead to the first touchdown of the game by Wave wide receiver Vercellotti who penetrated South Tahoe’s defensive line.
The Wave then botched their first field goal of the game before kicking off to the Vikings, and the Vikings defense would continue their onslaught against Richardson with key sacks by Vikings senior captain and Mason Cain and junior linebacker Jacob Bernal who left Richardson struggling in the pocket.
It was then that the Wave repeated some of the performance from the victory against Wooster when Nelson ran back the Viking’s kickoff 88-yards, bringing the Wave up to 14-0 at the opening of the second half.
Though Vikings junior running back Dylan Gooding made an impressive interception at 8:46, the Vikings would soon fumble and the third quarter belonged to the Wave after the recovery.
After a back and forth of first downs and an impressive Wave defensive block when the Vikings managed to push to the 3-yard line, Nelson managed another touchdown with 2:32 left in the third.
Soon after, Wave senior captain linebacker Johnny Mayo intercepted with 1:03 left in the third, and the Wave kept possession until the end of the quarter thanks to a continuous display of impressive first downs by Vercellotti.
Few Vikings fans may have given up hope for the team in the fourth, particularly when Vercellotti scored his last touchdown of the game, bringing the Wave to 28 points after a successful one point conversion with 5:39 left.
The Vikings would not go down without a fight however with a literal last-minute touchdow but failing to kick the extra point, bringing the final score 28-6.
Coach Hill admitted that the Vikings definitely gave the Wave trouble in the first half, and that this was a credit to their status as an improved team as he’d said in a previous interview.
“Honestly returning the kickoff to start the second half took off a bit of the pressure,” Hill said, “but the kids also took to the adjustments we made at half-time. As you can see we were able to run the football much more effectively in the second half, and that’s a credit to the kids being able to make those adjustments in the game.”
The Wave’s next game will be an away game at Dayton on Friday at 7 p.m.