The Douglas varsity football team brought its best offense and defense to South Tahoe Saturday afternoon and showed the Vikings why many consider the Tigers to be the top team in the Northern Nevada 4A League with a 56-27 romp.
The score belied the real story behind the game, which was Douglas' swarming defense and high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Luke Rippee, who amassed 261 yards passing on the day. Tigers running back Dusty Cooper also rushed for 120 yards on 21 carries while South Tahoe gained 93 yards on the ground and 123 in the air.
South Tahoe got two long kick returns that kept the game within reach.
"Well, if we work on our kick-off return (defense) we'll be okay," said Tigers' head coach Mike Rippee, whose team improved to 2-0 in league play and 5-0 overall. "I thought the defense did a great job all day long but we just set them up too easily with the big kick-off returns. That's a great offense they have. They can score from anywhere and they do a great job, but we feel we've got a pretty good offense and can do some things too."
"Douglas is the best football team in the Northern 4A right now, in my opinion," said Vikings' head coach Todd McIntyre, whose Vikings dropped to 2-1 in league and 3-2 overall. "Luke Rippee played a heck of a game and did a really nice job. I don't think our offense clicked at all but what kept us respectable was our kick-off returns. We have to improve offensively if we want to play with teams like this."
The Tigers started the scoring with a two-yard carry by Rippee for a 6-0 lead at the 8:56 mark in the first quarter.
A South Tahoe fumble with 2:24 left in the quarter gave the ball back to the Tigers with good field position and senior Andy McIntosh carried it in for the score. A successful extra point attempt by Eric Emm made it 13-0 to end the quarter.
In the second quarter, both teams put on a good defensive show, with a South Tahoe fumble scooped up by Douglas at the three yard line, followed on the next play by a South Tahoe interception at the same spot on the field. Vikings' junior quarterback Mikey Van Gorden then snuck in on a bootleg to the right at the 10:12 mark and Matt Bobman's extra point was good for a 13-7 Douglas lead.
A fumble and key South Tahoe pass interference call on the next possession led to a Douglas field goal for a 16-7 lead and the Tigers then used two long pass plays to set up a three-yard pass from Rippee to wide receiver Nolan Brockhage for a 23-7 score.
It was looking pretty bleak for the Vikings until Dan Gomez broke free on a kick return and scored, but Van Gorden's bootleg to the right for a two-point conversion failed as he was swarmed by the Douglas defense.
In the closing seconds of the half, Douglas' McIntosh caught a short pass for a touchdown and the point after made it 30-13 at the half.
In the second half, Douglas came out and seemingly scored on a Rippee run but it was called back for holding and South Tahoe forced a punt. With the score 37-13, South Tahoe senior running back Grant Swinney returned the kickoff to the three yard line and then scored from there on the next play to make it 37-20.
With 1:04 left in the third, Douglas got another Cooper rushing touchdown but missed the point after for a 43-20 score.
In the fourth quarter, Douglas extended its lead to 50-20 with a quarterback sneak at the 11:25 mark followed by a successful extra point.
Douglas got another touchdown from junior running back Spike Agosta but fumbled the ball on the point-after attempt for a 56-20 lead, but as if to show they were beaten but not out, the Vikings picked up one final touchdown with just 15 seconds remaining on a pass to Gomez and an extra point by Bobman for a final of 56-27.
Although Douglas was ranked behind South Tahoe and Hug in the league standings last week, that will change following the results over the weekend.
Rippee said his team will take a wait-and-see approach to the remainder of the season.
"It doesn't make any difference right now were people are picking us because we've got business to take care of," he said. "We have Hug coming up next week (Friday). When they pick me on top and we're really on top then I'll be happy."
South Tahoe plays Carson on the road next week.