RENO - The Galena Grizzlies held the mighty McQueen Machine to 201 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers and led 21-7 in the second quarter.
But the Lancers haven't earned the status as Northern Nevada's premier program for nothing and scored 15 unanswered points and forced seven Galena turnovers to notch a 22-21 victory to win the NIAA Northern 4A regional championship Friday at Damonte Ranch High School.
The Lancers will face two-time defending state champion Las Vegas Nov. 24 at McQueen.
The Grizzlies, who finished their season 9-3, had a chance at a game-winning drive after McQueen kicker Anthony Martinez missed a 33-yard field goal with 3 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game.
Beginning at its own 20-yard-line, Galena drove to the Lancers' 40 in eight plays, but on a fourth-and-40, McQueen's Styker Ngongoseke stepped in front of a Jacob Anderson pass with 1:29 left in the game.
Galena would get the ball back on its 36 with 3.6 seconds to go, but Anderson was unable to find an open receiver downfield and threw the ball out of bounds, which preserved the win for the 12-1 Lancers.
Coach Ken Dalton, in his 25th year as head coach at McQueen, wasn't sure if it was his team's 16th or 17th regional championship, but said he isn't counting.
"Every year we have different kids and I'm very proud of this bunch," Dalton said. "They improved game to game. They played outstanding. They've had the ability to come back from a slow start. It doesn't matter what the score is, they just go ahead and play tough. They played tough today."
So did the Grizzlies who, in spite of two fumbles by Jake Hess and one by Kyle Griffin in the first quarter, trailed only 7-6.
McQueen running back Tyler York capped a five-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Lancers a 7-0 lead 3:26 into the game. The drive began on the Grizzlies' 23 following Hess' first fumble.
Galena had a chance deep in Lancer territory when Griffin fell on a bad snap to McQueen's punter on the 17, but two plays later he coughed the ball up himself.
The Grizzlies would hang tough, however, and Anderson found Steve Blackhart for a 23-yard score as time ran out in the first quarter. Galena kicker Michael Parker's extra point was blocked and Galena trailed 7-6.
The Grizzlies would take advantage of a McQueen turnover in the second quarter. Pete Lazzari recovered a York fumble on the Lancers' 25 and seven plays later - on a fourth-and-goal from the five - Anderson hit Jason Parkinson in the end zone.
Anderson and P.J. Tomaino hooked up for the 2-point conversion and Galena held a 14-7 lead with 9:16 to go in the half.
Parkinson gave the Grizzlies a 21-7 lead when he intercepted a Connor Brandt pass and took it in 16 yards for the score.
Martinez helped his own cause and three plays after he had a great kickoff return, he connected on a 37-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-10.
Galena had 249 yards of total offense, but McQueen stuffed the Grizzlies' running game in the second half, holding it to 12 yards in the second half.
Anderson completed 11-of-29 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns and had three interceptions. Brandt was 2-of-9 for 22 yards and two interceptions.
Ngongoseke, who rushed for 45 yards on 16 carries, capped an eight-play, 35-yard drive when he bulled in from the 1. The series came hot on the heels of a Phil Sacks interception.
The kick failed and McQueen trailed 21-16 at 4:55 of the third quarter.
A Galena punt backed up the Lancers to their own 15, but York, who looked to be stopped in the secondary, kept his legs churning and rumbled 62 yards to the Galena 23.
Five plays later, York took it from 4 yards out to give Galena all of the points it would need.
"It all started with the line," said York, who picked up a game-high 123 yards and two scores on 17 carries. "We were missing a lineman and we had a new starter. (On the 62-yard run) I broke through to the secondary. Once I was in the secondary, it was wide open.
"This was the second straight week we were behind at halftime. Good teams can come back from behind. As a team, we've worked since spring to get to this point. If we keep working, the sky's the limit."
For Ngongoseke, he couldn't have picked a better time to get his first interception of the season.
"Coach told me to cover the zone and I was right there and came out with it," Ngongoseke said. "At halftime, we said, 'We're not going to go home.' The guys rallied around that motto and did what we needed to do.
"Ever since I was a freshman, we always got to the (playoffs), but we never got the win," he said. "I got it my senior year. We don't know too much about (Las Vegas), but we're going to come out and do the job we need to do (in two weeks)."
McQueen has won four state championships and will be looking, with two more wins, to take its first one since 2002.