Truckee football: Wolverines top South Tahoe 21-20 in Sierra Bowl
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A missed extra point was all that separated South Tahoe and Truckee in the latest installment of the Sierra Bowl on Friday, Oct. 21. The Vikings fell to the Wolverines 21-20 at Viking Stadium in a 3A Northern showdown between playoff-bound rivals.
“Every point matters,” Vikings coach Louis Franklin said. “We did what we had to do to win — we just didn’t capitalize on every opportunity we had.”
Truckee (8-1 3A Northern) claimed both the second seed and a first-round bye with the victory. South Tahoe (7-2) finishes third and will open the playoffs at home next week.
The Vikings and Wolverines traded a pair of scores in the first half Friday night, and went into the break tied 14-14. South Tahoe took the opening drive of the third quarter to Truckee’s 11-yard line, but came away empty after a fumble.
The Wolverines took the ensuing drive 90 yards in 10 plays to retake the lead. Senior Cole Harrity ran for a 3-yard touchdown — his third of the game — to put the visitors ahead 21-14 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
South Tahoe needed just five plays to answer, scoring on a 12-yard pass from senior Tommy Cefalu to senior Dylan Gooding that made it 21-20 with 3:02 left in the third. But the ensuing extra-point try from senior Noah Jackson missed wide right, keeping it a one-point game.
The Vikings kept Truckee off the board the rest of the way, but were unable to go in front. South Tahoe had two drives in the fourth quarter, and both ended with a stop on fourth down.
The second stop came on a fourth-and-8 from midfield — Cefalu threw a middle screen pass to senior Jacob Bernal, who was tackled two yards shy of a first down. After the turnover on downs, Truckee ran out the last 4:34 to hold on for its seventh straight win over South Tahoe.
Following South Tahoe’s final timeout with 2:35 left, Truckee secured the victory with a fourth-down conversion. Facing fourth-and-2 from the 33-yard line, Harrity took a pitch left and powered his way for 3 yards and the first down — four plays later, the game was over.
Truckee took the game’s opening drive for a score — a 5-yard run from Harrity — and had a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. South Tahoe jumped in front early in the second quarter, scoring one play after a strip sack from senior Jackson Binns deep in Wolverines’ territory.
STHS senior Alberto Morales fell on the fumble at the 5-yard line, and the Vikings found the end zone on the next play. Cefalu hit junior McCallan Castles on a fade route, and the extra point put South Tahoe ahead 7-6 with 11:00 left in the second quarter.
Later in the frame, both teams traded scores on consecutive possessions to send the game into halftime tied at 14. With 7:21 left in the half, Harrity ran for a 72-yard score and a two-point conversion pass from senior Jayden Commendatore to senior Ian Schmidig put Truckee ahead 14-7.
South Tahoe answered by marching 63 yards with six straight pass plays for a touchdown. Cefalu capped the drive by finding Jackson wide open for a 28-yard score that tied the game up with 4:54 left in the first half.
Cefalu finished 20-of-37 passing for 243 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — Jackson (75 yards) and Castles (73 yards) caught five passes apiece. Bernal ran for 33 yards on nine carries and caught three passes for 28 yards.
For Truckee, Harrity ran for a game-high 231 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries — and senior Wulfe Retzlaff added 83 yards on 14 rushes. The Wolverines ran for 374 yards, and held onto the ball in the second half after committing five first-half turnovers.
South Tahoe will play in its first postseason game since 1991 when it hosts sixth-seeded Fernley (4-5) in the league quarterfinals Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. The Vikings beat the Vaqueros 36-8 when the teams met in the regular season on Sept. 9 — and the winner advances to play Truckee in the league semifinals.