RENO - It might have been too much too early to call Friday's game at North Valleys a must-win situation for the Douglas High football team.
But Tiger coach Mike Rippee did see his team at a juncture heading in against the Panthers.
"This was a crossroads to our season," Rippee said. "To get beat here tonight, with as hard as the kids have worked and what they've done, it might have been too much."
The Tigers didn't let that happen, blasting the Panthers 51-22 while piling up 552 yards of total offense and 29 first downs to pick up their first win of the year.
"We put some pressure on the kids to step up this week," Rippee said.
The win sets Douglas up at 1-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play with defending regional champ McQueen coming to Minden Friday.
"These kids deserved this win as much as any team I've ever coached," Rippee said. "It was so important to get one this week so that we can get ready for McQueen."
Douglas came out firing as quarterback Michael Nolting completed 12 of his first 13 passes. He finished 22-of-32 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
Conner Peterson paced the ground game, carrying 42 times for 254 yards and three scores.
Defensively, if not for three plays, the Tigers would have held North Valleys to just 197 yards of total offense.
It was those three plays, which went for a combined 208 yards and three touchdowns, that had Rippee concerned.
"They didn't have any drives," Rippee said."We gave up three big plays. It's been happening all year. We battle and battle and battle and then we give up a big play. That can't happen."
He also was displeased with three turnovers on offense.
"The big plays defensively ... the inconsistency on offense ... too many turnovers ... Those are things we have to clean up if we are going to beat a team like McQueen," Rippee said.
The Tigers came up with a stop on the Panthers' first possession of the game and then drove 59 yards on eight plays before Nate VonAhsen kicked a 25-yard field goal for the early 3-0 lead.
North Valleys came right back with a 74-yard draw for a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead.
Peterson finished off an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 5-yard run to put Douglas back up at 10-7.
VonAhsen then placed a sky-high kick along the left sideline that North Valleys failed to cover. Ben Khongkhatitham recovered the kick at the Panther 18 for Douglas.
Three plays later Nick Maestretti caught a 17-yard touchdown pass for the first of two scores on the night.
Peterson put Douglas up 22-7 early in the second quarter with a 1-yard score. North Valleys fumbled the ensuing kick with Dusty Fisher recovering for the Tigers.
Peterson took the next play from scrimmage 28 yards for the score.
"Special teams was definitely a factor," Rippee said. "We worked real hard there and it made a difference tonight."
From there, the rout was on as Nolting found VonAhsen for a 15-yard score, Maestretti caught his second TD pass and EJ Rose capped the scoring late in the fourth with a four-yard run.
Defensively for Douglas, Maestretti and Fishereach recovered fumbles, Connor Hughes picked off a pass and Ryan Simons had a sack.
The Tiger offensive line of Matt Wylie, Sean Jones, Logan Shaffer, Pierce Dykes, Zach Kinder and tight end Trevor Shaffer paved the way for 290 yards on the ground.