RENO - The night started out on a promising note for Galena when Jake Hess blocked a McQueen punt and the Grizzlies drove the length of the field for an early score.
However, McQueen shook off that early setback and scored 28 second-quarter points and held off Galena, 28-21, Thursday night in the NIAA 4A semifinal at John Robb Stadium.
McQueen moves on to the Northern 4A finals against Hug, a 28-0 winner over Reed. The game is schedule for Friday at McQueen.
"We expected to come over here and play well," Galena coach Steve Struzyk said. "We did it the first time. That's a really good club over there. We made a couple of mistakes early. We had some penalties."
"It was the kind of game you should have in a regional semifinal," McQueen coach Ken Dalton said. "There were two outstanding teams out there."
McQueen scored its first touchdown six seconds into the second quarter when Ryan Wickes threw an 11-yard pass to C.J. Riley, who had a huge game with five catches for 100 yards. Riley's PAT tied the game at 7. Wickes threw two other big passes on the drive, each for 27 yards to Riley and Travis Reynolds, respectively.
After that score, the teams went on a scoring binge, combining for 21 points in the next 3 minutes 4 seconds.
Three plays after the score, Galena QB Jacob Anderson, who had completed four straight passes on the opening drive, tried to throw a pass in the right flat. The pass bounced off two McQueen defenders into the hands of the Lancers' Anders Boyd, who returned it 14 yards for a score. Riley's PAT made it 14-7 with 10:55 left.
That interception started a string of 12 straight misfires for Anderson, who completed just 6 of 18.
"They (McQueen) adjusted well," Struzyk said. "That was a judgment pass."
Galena tied the game at 14 just 54 seconds later. On third and seven from the 28, Jimmy Sargent took a handoff from Anderson, stopped and lofted a pass to Anthony Fritsche, who outraced the McQueen secondary to the end zone.
Galena's defense, which has been so dependable, had a huge letdown on the next possession.
On second-and-10 from the McQueen 39, Wickes tossed a screen pass to Josh Pritchard. The stocky back shook off a couple of tackles along the left sideline and raced 59 yards to the Galena 2. Shawn Pritchard scored on the next play, capping the 61-yard drive. Riley's PAT made it 21-14.
Galena failed to get a first down on its next possession, but Ryan Spinuzzi shanked a 19-yard punt that rolled dead at the Galena 49.
McQueen couldn't deliver a knockout punch, however. The Lancers' drive bogged down at the Galena 25, and Riley missed a 42-yard field goal attempt to the left.
After another three and out possession, the Lancers had great field position at midfield, and this time they didn't waste it.
On third-and-18 from the Galena 45, Wickes (221 yards passing) tossed a 42-yard pass to Riley, who made the catch over Zach Shannon for a first down at the 3. McQueen was stopped twice for no gain at the 1, and the Lancers were hit with a motion penalty. Dalton eschewed the field goal and went for it on fourth down. Wickes found Riley open in the middle of the end zone for the score to make it 28-14.
On the first play after the kickoff, the Grizzlies' Ryan Krueger, who was held to 30 yards on 10 carries, injured his hand. He was replaced by Sargent, who gained 83 yards on 18 carries.
Krueger was on the field for the second-half kickoff. Sargent took the kick and tried to hand it off to Krueger, who lost the ball. Riley recovered for the Lancers at the Galena 27.
After five plays, McQueen seemed poised to put away the Grizzlies with another score. On third-and-5 from the 7, Shawn Pritchard (121 yards) was stopped after a 3-yard gain.
McQueen lined up as if it was going to kick a field goal. Wickes took the snap, rolled to the right and tried to throw back across the middle. One problem. He didn't see Jordan Arnold, who intercepted the pass a yard deep in the end zone and went the distance for the score. Gibson's PAT made it 28-21, and the Grizzlies were back in business.
"We could have gotten a first down if he (Wickes) had run," Dalton said. "We've worked on that play a lot."
"When I saw him roll out I decided that if he threw it, I would try to jump it (the route)," Arnold said.
Galena's defense held, giving the ball back to its offense.
It didn't matter that Krueger was on the sidelines, because Sargent was equal to the task. He carried the ball 11 times on the Grizzlies' ensuing 17-play drive that ended on the McQueen 17 when Anderson misfired three straight times.
Credit McQueen's defense for shutting out Galena's offense in the second half.
"Our defense always comes up big," Dalton said. "We made some nice stops."
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281