Any time two teams combine for more than 900 yards of offense, it goes without
saying that things got wild.
But wild would be an understatement in a game that saw the Douglas football team go up 14 and down 20 before ultimately falling 41-35 to the top-ranked team in the state, Las Vegas.
Even though Douglas had a chance to win it on the last play against a school that boasts five state titles and six regional titles in the last seven years, coach Mike Rippee was hardly ready to settle for "ifs" or "almosts."
And he doesn't expect any of his players will be either.
"We can't be satisfied with playing a good team close," he said. "We've got to get away from the the mistakes that hurt us, offensively, defensively and coaching.
"I have an array of emotions right now " good, bad and indifferent. I saw some good things and some bad things."
And there were really good things.
Quarterback Tim Rudnick threw for what is believed to be a school record 352 yards on 22 completions to go with three touchdowns. He attempted 47 passes in the game, making Rippee good on his preseason promise to throw the ball more this season.
"I don't think we've ever thrown the ball that many times in a game before," Rippee said.
The defense came up with a blocked punt, a blocked extra point, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a sack.
But there were also those bad things that tend to come along with season openers.
Rudnick threw four interceptions, the defense gave up 248 yards on the ground and 226 yards through the air, including 169 to standout running back Reggie Bullock.
At one point, an early-triggered snap rolled 15 yards into the end zone where Las Vegas pounced on it to push its lead at that point to 41-21.
"If we can commit to fixing those mistakes, we'll be OK," Rippee said. "We got down, but we fought hard, made some stops, made some big plays and got right back into the football game with a chance to win. That's all you can ask for against a good football team.
"We just have to do some things better. We had periods where our intensity lacked."
Things couldn't have started much better for Douglas.
After the Tigers' opening drive sputtered at the Vegas 47, the defense stalled the Wildcats on four plays before defensive tackle Parker Robertson scooped up a botched snap.
Rudnick moved the ball 11 yards on a swing pass to Johnny Pollack and Zach McFadden caught a 34-yard pass to the 1-yard line. Runick was later picked off on the drive, but the Tiger defense stalled Vegas on four plays before Garrett Tenney blocked the punt to give Douglas the ball at the Vegas 22.
A 23-yard pass to McFadden, who finished with 11 catches for 213 yards, set Douglas up at the 3 and Jordan Cruz punched it in from there for the early 7-0 lead.
Douglas forced a punt on Vegas' next drive and drove back down on a drive highlighted by a 20-yard pass to McLaughlin, who finished with six catches for 86 yards, and a 28-yard run from Pollack.
Rudnick finished the drive off on a 1-yard keeper for the 14-0 lead.
That's when things started to go a little sour for Douglas.
Las Vegas quarterback Emir Lopez found Marquan Major for a 41-yard pass to highlight a drive the ended with Bullock scoring from a yard out.
An interception on Douglas' next drive set Vegas up at its own 22 and Lopez hit Aaron Frankling for a 41-yard touchdown pass. The kick failed, leaving the score at 14-13, but Vegas had erased the deficit in a little over three minutes of play.
"We've got a 14-0 lead, we have to hold that," Rippee said. "You at least have to make them work to score. We gave up two scores real quick and they were right back in the game."
Bullock picked off a pass with 43 seconds left in the half to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead with the two-point conversion heading into the locker rooms.
Vegas picked off another pass on Douglas' first drive of the second half and scored three plays later on a pass from Lopez to Bullock.
Douglas' first nine plays of the half went for no gain or a loss but Pollack took a direct snap on a fake punt at the Vegas 40 for 27 yards to the 13.
Rudnick found Mclaughlin three plays later for a 13-yard touchdown, cutting the score to 28-21.
Bullock took the ball 72 yards on a cutback on the ensuing drive for a touchdown on the 35-21 lead.
The wheels just about fell off the cart for Douglas as the Tigers were called for an offsides and then suffered the botched snap that turned into a Vegas touchdown less than 10 seconds later, giving the Wildcats a 41-21 lead.
On Douglas' first drive of the fourth quarter, Rudnick found McFadden twice for gains of 20-plus yards before tossing a dink pass to a wide-open Connor Dillon for a 23-yard touchdown.
Douglas clawed into the game on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 60-yard touchdown pass to McFadden, cutting the lead the 41-35.
What followed was an onside kick that Douglas appeared to recover, but it was ruled that the Tigers had touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards or before a Vegas player had touched it.
The Wildcats ran the clock down from 2:31 to 28 seconds with their following drive and Douglas had little time to get anything going before time expired.
Lopez threw for 226 yard and two touchdowns in the win while Pollack led Douglas with 56 yards on the ground.
Douglas travels to Reno Friday for a 7 p.m. game.