Dust Devils rally falls short
For the Nevada Appeal
South Tahoe quarterback John Cefalu completed just five of 14 second half passes, but it was three of those five that put the dagger through Dayton on Friday.
Cefalu threw for three touchdowns in the Vikings 37-36 win to spoil Dayton’s homecoming.
The completions ruined Dayton’s 16-point second-half rally.
“We made it a game in the second half, but personal fouls got us …. you know, shooting ourselves in the foot again,” Dayton coach Rob Turner said.
South Tahoe built a 31-20 halftime lead on the strength of Cefalu’s right arm and wide out Kyante Wilson’s legs.
Cefalu was 10 of 12 for 153 yards in the first half with two touchdowns. Wilson caught seven passes for 155 yards including touchdowns of 36 and 29 yards during the game. He also returned a kick 92 yards for another score as the Vikings built their lead.
The Dust Devils did their best to keep up, with Taryn Aguilera scoring twice on runs of 27 and 25 yards and Austin Fletcher scoring from 26 yards out. Aguilera rushed for 217 yards on 28 carries, often getting the ball four or five plays in a row.
In the third quarter, Dayton pulled within five points on its first possession of the second half with Aguilera scoring on a 7-yard run with 6:23 to play.
The score was set up after the Dayton defense forced a turnover on downs deep inside their own territory. Wilson took the second half kickoff 72 yards down to the Dayton 13-yard line.
The Dust Devils then marched the length of the field for the score.
That’s when Cefalu and South Tahoe put the game out of reach on its next possession.
Facing a third-and-30 situation, after a false start and a holding penalty, Cefalu found Wilson on a slant over the left side that picked up 28 yards. Dayton jumped offside giving the Vikings a first down.
That’s when Cefalu found Kris DiGrande for 25 yards to move the ball down to Dayton’s 16.
The Dust Devils looked like they might get a key stop when Aguilera and Josh Joyner sacked Cefalu for a seven yard loss, but he found DiGrande over the middle on the next play for a 23 yard score and the final dagger.
Dayton was able to put together one last drive in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. Quinn Santana scored from 3 yards out with 1:32 left. Peyton Morena converted the two-point conversion to pull Dayton within one at 37-36.
The Dust Devils got the ball back after forcing South Lake Tahoe to punt, but with just 32.3 seconds remaining, there was little Dayton could do.
“It was a pretty fun game,” Turner said. “It had all the Disney movie elements in it … The comeback, you know. Unfortunately, we just came out on the wrong end.”
Dayton, now 1-4 on the year, needs to win out and receive a lot of help to make the playoffs. The Dust Devils travel to Wooster on Friday.