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Vikes edge Dayton, 24-23

Steve Yingling
Nevada Appeal News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – For the South Tahoe High Vikings, it was a homecoming football game that won’t fade from memory.

They won’t forget senior defensive back Rigel Garman stepping in front of a Dayton receiver to make an interception at the Viking 11, preserving South Tahoe’s 24-23 upset victory Saturday.

They’ll remember junior workhorse tailback Jacob Stowell.

“They probably came in a little overconfident,” said STHS coach Kevin Hennessee. “Our kids are still figuring out what they are capable of, and we’re trying to get them to believe in what we’re doing. This is a huge step in the right direction.”

Dayton dropped to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the Northern 3A, while South Tahoe raised its record to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in league.

As soon as the delayed opening kickoff was booted, Dust Devils’ running back Kyle Onstott made like a copter and quickly lifted his team into the end zone. Onstott broke off a 72-yard run down the Dayton sideline on the second play from scrimmage, giving the Dust Devils a 7-0 lead.

But South Tahoe didn’t let the big play snowball, and the emotion quickly disappeared from the Dayton sideline.

“I don’t know if we took South Tahoe too lightly or whatever the reason. We just weren’t ready to play,” said Dayton coach Rick Walker.

Dayton’s offense was disrupted for the remainder of the half, partly by a swarming Vikings’ defense and injuries to Onstott and quarterback Kage Walker.

South Tahoe kept its offensive game plan simple, repeatedly running Stowell behind an offensive line that responded better to run blocking than pass blocking. Stowell capped an eight-play, 59-yeard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

A Dayton turnover on a muffed punt gave South Tahoe possession at the Dust Devils’ 17 with 3 minutes, 59 seconds left in the half. The Vikings would score on a 6-yard pass from Tyler Nesbitt to Marshall Curtzwiler. Nesbitt tacked on a two-point conversion pass, giving South Tahoe a 16-7 halftime lead.

Dayton came out of an extended homecoming halftime and stole the momentum from the Vikings.

Dusty Smith tackled Vikings’ punter Ortega in the end zone for a safety, making the score 16-9 with 10:27 remaining in the third quarter.

The Vikings extended their lead to 24-9 by moving 55 yards in seven plays. An 11-yard rush by Stowell and a 11-yard reception by Garman on fourth down set up Stowell’s 23-yard touchdown run. Nesbitt converted South Tahoe’s third two-pointer, running the ball in from the 3 with :44 left in the third period.

But Dayton didn’t crack.

Logan Jones turned a simple out pattern into a 59-yard scoring play, using a crunching block by Conner Oliver to bolt into the end zone. Oliver caught a two-point pass from Walker as Dayton pulled to within 24-17 with 17 to go in the third period.

Behind Onstott and Walker’s playmaking Dayton drove toward the potential game-tying score midway through the final period. Two late hits by the Vikings aided the 79-yard drive, which culminated in Houston Bernston’s 2-yard TD run with 5:21 remaining. Walker elected to go for a tying kick, and Oliver missed the boot to his right as Stowell applied pressure from the outside.

“Conner’s been money. He’s been kicking 50-yard field goals in practice,” coach Walker said. “He just pushed it.”

Dayton got the ball back one more time and threatened to pull out the victory.

Walker’s 38-yard strike to Oliver set up Dayton at the Vikings’ 29. But Garman delivered the game’s biggest play, stepping in front of a crossing Smith to make an interception at the 11. South Tahoe was able to run out the clock despite having to cover two fumbles.

Vikings 24, Dust Devils 23

Dayton 7 0 10 6 – 23

So. Tahoe 8 8 8 0 – 24

First quarter

D-Onstott 72 run (Oliver kick)

ST-Stowell 5 run (Contaxis pass from Garman)

Second quarter

ST-Curtzwiler 6 pass from Nesbitt (Stowell pass from Nesbitt)

Third quarter

D-Ortega tackled by Smith in end zone

ST-Stowell 23 run (Nesbitt run)

D-Jones 59 pass from Walker (Oliver pass from Walker)

Fourth quarter

D-Bernston 2 run (kick failed)