Mazama junior Tristan Lee seemed to have his hand in nearly every big moment for the Vikings Friday night.
His 16-yard rushing touchdown tied Mazama with the Del Norte Warriors at 7. His 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Vikings their first lead, a lead that would carry Mazama to a 21-14 win in its final nonconference game.
In the final seconds of the game, Lee’s defense in the end zone kept the Warriors from earning a critical touchdown pass on fourth-and-9.
“Once that ball went up, I knew, one play and then we’re done,” Lee said.
At quarterback, Lee rushed a team-high 104 yards for the Vikings, and threw a two-point conversion pass that widened Mazama’s lead following his own touchdown.
“Tristan Lee played his butt off tonight at corner against that 6-foot-5 receiver, and at quarterback,” Mazama head coach Vic Lease said. “He got after it.”
Someone needed to.
With a trifecta of Mazama injuries against a strong California opponent, Mazama needed to show up big Friday.
Del Norte came into the game with a 4-0 record, averaging 40 points a game and only surrendering an average of 11 points.
“If Del Norte were in Oregon, they’d be a big 5A school, and they’d be one of the best 5A schools in the state. I firmly believe that,” Lease said. “They ran the ball on us very well. They got after us.”
Del Norte took an early lead in the first quarter, capitalizing on a Mazama fumble on the Vikings 28-yard-line.
Lee’s first touchdown tied the game just 30 seconds before the half, but three minutes into the third, the Warriors led again.
The Vikings were chasing the Warriors and couldn’t secure an advantage.
Another three minutes later though, Mazama earned first-and-goal and junior running back Colby Anderson carried the ball into the end zone for a 12-yard run, but a missed kick left the Vikings just one point shy of another tie — until Lee’s 63-yard rush and two-point conversion pass.
“The line just made some good blocks and I saw a hole and I just ran for it,” he said. “We needed to get in the end zone here. Do it for my team.”
Lee said he believes the touchdown lifted the team’s energy and gave them the momentum and confidence they needed to finish strong. They did, denying a final touchdown attempt.
Mazama held onto its lead through a scoreless final quarter for both teams.
“This is one of the greatest wins I’ve ever been a part of,” Lease said. “We’re coming together really well, and I’m really proud of our guys.”
Even with several personnel losses, Lease is confident in the team he’s able to field as Skyline Conference play opens next week, especially with the Vikings 3-0 record.
Mazama heads to Phoenix for a 7 p.m. Friday game, and won’t play at home again for a month when it will host Henley October 25.
“Love the win through the weekend,” Lee said, “and go back to work on Monday.”