After pasting Douglas for 21 unanswered points to start the game, the McQueen football team appeared well on its way to an easy win, taking a 28-3 lead into halftime Friday night at McQueen.
The Lancers, though, had to hold off a furious second-half rally from the Tigers, needing a last-second 21-yard touchdown pass from Joey Sorgani to Watson Asi to take a 35-32 win over the Tigers.
The end of the game was a far cry from the start. After McQueen drove 80 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the game, the Lancers recovered a fumble on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage.
McQueen scored three plays later to take the early 14-0 lead. After two more plays on offense, Douglas fumbled again and McQueen recovered. Two more plays and the Lancer lead was 21-0.
It was the start of a disastrous first half for the Tigers, which included six turnovers. Douglas recovered to out-gain the Lancers in total yardage (370 to 318) and rack up nearly 10 more first downs (26-17), but the slow start proved to be too costly in the end.
"That (McQueen) is a good football team," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "You only play one half against them and you have to expect that (the outcome).
"They made the big play at the end, they've done it two weeks in a row now. My kids played hard, but we made tough mistakes early on. We can't do what we did and expect to win these games."
The Tigers got on the scoreboard after the Lancers' third touchdown as Nikolai Vasquez kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-3 with 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Douglas' defense came up with its first stop of the night on McQueen's next drive, but McQueen's Taylor Rose promptly picked off a Douglas pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Lancers the 28-3 lead heading into halftime.
"We need to get tougher in some spots, no doubt about it," Rippee said. "We need to get focused on the game. It's not that we didn't play hard, it's just that we did not focus and get ourselves going."
Douglas' first drive of the second half stalled but the Tigers came up with the defensive stop. Zack Williams completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Austin Neddenreip on the Tigers' next drive, setting the score at 21-10.
After another defensive stop, Johnny Pollack had a number of big carries on Douglas' next drive, including one for 37 yards, to set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Luis Pina-Duarte. Pollack punched in the two-point conversion to cut McQueen's lead to 28-18.
Another defensive stop set Douglas up for another succesful drive, which culminated in Williams keeping the ball for a one-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 5:51 left in the game.
The Tigers recovered a McQueen fumble on the next drive and parlayed that into another keeper touchdown for Williams from one yard out, giving Douglas the 32-28 lead with 2:07 left.
McQueen put together a brilliant drive, though, going 80 yards in nine plays and ending with Sorgani's pass on fourth down with six seconds left.
"We played a hard second half," Rippee said. "We're through with the preseason now and we're looking forward to regrouping. We're find out who we are now. There's a lot of motivation in this game, but we are disappointed in our mistakes, not only the players, but the coaches. It's on the whole team."