Fletcher runs Dayton past ST
SOUTH TAHOE — South Tahoe was trailing by two with 24 seconds on the clock when Dayton dug in for one last stand.
The Dust Devils hadn’t trailed all night, but in the biting 38-degrees at the bitter end none of that mattered.
South Tahoe quarterback Steven Steed dropped back and sent a bullet into the end zone, but Dayton’s defense smothered the 2-point conversion attempt, and the Dust Devils’ Jaret Reed returned an interception for a touchdown late in the game to cement the Dust Devils’ 42-33 victory Friday night in a Division 1A game.
Dayton opened the door for South Tahoe in the fourth quarter, but the Dust Devils were in command up until that point.
Seven minutes into the game, Dayton quarterback Davis Winebarger found Julio Meza, who shook South Tahoe’s defense for a 76-yard touchdown to give Dayton a 7-0 edge.
The Dust Devils expanded the lead in second quarter when Austin Fletcher took the ball for a 65-yard touchdown run. Fletcher was just getting warmed up.
Steed was putting together threatening drives. He marched South Tahoe to Dayton’s 12, but the Vikings fell short as Dayton’s defense forced a three-and-out.
Steed and the Vikings kept chipping away, and Steed finally connected with Jared Fajman in the final 22 seconds of the half. Fajman hauled in the 17-yard pass to cut the lead to 14-7.
The Dust Devils came out strong in the second half with back-to-back touchdowns. Fletcher recovered a fumble in Dayton’s red zone and took it for a long touchdown run.
Fletcher than ran for 46 yards on Dayton’s next drive to set up the Dust Devils on the Vikings’ 9. Skyler Berntson punched it in the touchdown, and Dayton took a commanding 28-7 lead with five minutes left in the third.
Steed started driving the Vikings back downfield. He hit Fajman for 39 yards to put South Tahoe in striking distance. Tyler Nickerson then scored on a 14-yard run. Vikings running back Dylan Gardner scored from 5 yards out to cut Dayton’s lead to 28-21 early in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot, 195-pound running back took in his third touchdown of the night from 61 yards out.
But after Fletcher’s run, the Dust Devils started to slip.
The Vikings used one play to answer back. Steed sent a 44-yard pass to Brandon Erickson on the opening play of the Vikings’ next drive. The touchdown brought the game back to one possession with four minutes remaining.
On the next drive, South Tahoe’s Quinton Ritter pulled down an interception on the 50. The Vikings went to work.
Steed started by hitting Erickson to move the Vikings to Dayton’s 9.
Dayton forced three incompletes, but on fourth-and-goal and pack of players went up for the ball and South Tahoe’s wide receiver Kyle Miller came down with it in his hands with 24 seconds remaining. The Vikings were a two-point conversion away.
But Dayton’s defense was good for one last stand.