RENO " The bye week in Galena High's football schedule couldn't have come at a better time.
For the third straight week, Galena's defense had more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, surrendering 278 yards rushing. It was the third straight week the unit had given up more than 200 yards. The offense, which resembled last year's pass-heavy attack, turned the ball over three times, all on interceptions.
Those two factors contributed heavily to the Grizzlies' 37-14 loss to No. 6 Spanish Springs Friday night in a nonleague game.
"We need it (the bye)," Galena coach Steve Struzyk said. "We need two weeks off to get ready (for league). It was a tough stretch in nonleague, and I knew it was going to be tough.
"We're done with that. Now we start playing games that count. We're 0-0 and start with a clean slate."
Struzyk was trying to be upbeat. If he didn't try to spin it, he'd probably be pulling his hair out right about now. Part of his problem is numbers. With just barely 30 on the roster, he's trying to avoid players going both ways to save them. A lot of it is that the Grizzlies don't have a lot of experience, and it's showing in both lines and the skill positions.
"We're trying to find ourselves offensively," Struzyk said. "It's tough to put in this offense in a week. We're trying to adjust our game plan around our personnel."
Instead of Jarrod Faust running around and through opposing defense like he had the first two weeks, he was used more as a receiver. The Grizzlies had success with the screen pass. Faust finished with 10 catches for 66 yards and he carried 17 times for a season-low 57 yards.
Both teams took advantage of turnovers and a short field to score early in the first quarter.
The Cougars' first possession started at the 49, and it only took them two plays to reach the end zone.
Richie Hernandez opened the game with a 43-yard burst down to the Grizzlies' 6-yard line, and Dominic Smith scored the first of his three touchdowns on the next play. Brandon Palfrey's PAT made it 7-0 with 8:45 left.
A muffed punt by Jalen Dixon was recovered by Beau Bickel at the Cougars' 28, and Bickel and Luke Hess hooked up on the next play for a score. Nick Dufur's kick tied the game at 7.
After that it was all Spanish Springs. The Cougars ripped off 30 unanswered points over the next 2 1/2 quarters to take a 37-7 lead after three quarters.
One of the key plays came on Galena's next possession.
A 16-yard shovel pass from Bickel to Faust plus a 9-yard completion to Trent Thomas gave Galena a first down at the Cougars' 25-yard line. Bickel threw an incomplete pass on first down, and then went to the air again.
Hernandez picked off the pass in the left flat at the 13 and raced 87 yards for the go-ahead score and a 13-7 lead. The Cougars never trailed after that.
"It went 7-0 and then 7-7 and then we turned the ball over," Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare said. "Richie gets the pick and it turned the momentum. It swung it back to our favor."
Hernandez, who hurt Carson in the season-opener, raced 61 yards on a third-and-1 situation for a first down at the Galena 18. Smith carried three straight times, capping the drive with a 2-yard TD run. Pelfrey's PAT made it 20-7 with 7:15 left in the half.
Hare was impressed with Smith, who carried a bigger load than normal because Todd Giordano was held out of the game for breaking a school rule. Smith finished with 92 yards on 16 carries.
"Dominic was a man child," Hare said. "I thought our line dominated a lot of the game. We played really good up front."
An interception set up the Cougars' next score.
Two plays after the Cougars' score, Bickel tried another shovel pass to Faust in heavy traffic.
The ball appeared to bounce off Faust's body and into the hands of a Spanish Springs player at the Galena 32.
Seven plays later, the Cougars were in the end zone again, Smith scoring on a 9-yard run. Pelfrey's kick made it 27-7 with 4:34 left in the half. Pelfrey added a 26-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining in the half for a 30-7 lead.