RENO - Galena recovered an onside kick to start the game and went in to score on its opening possession.
It got even uglier after that for the Carson Senators.
Carson turned the ball over three times which led to 14 points en route to a perplexing 42-0 loss to the Grizzlies in a Sierra League game Friday night.
Galena improved to 3-0, while Carson dropped to 0-2 in league and 4-3 overall. The Grizzlies locked up a first-round playoff game, while the Senators are suddenly playing for their playoff lives in the next two weeks.
Carson coach Blair Roman didn't have much to say after the lopsided loss, and that's to be expected.
"Credit to Galena," he said. "I thought they played a super game. It certainly wasn't the result the kids or coaching staff expected. We figured it was going to be a close, hard-fought game. I thought Galena played a lot faster than we did.
"We did some good things at times. All I know is that we're heading home for a big game next Friday (Bishop Manogue)."
Galena outgained Carson 371-202, and that was with its top running backs Connor Marks (51 yards) and Rich Harger (149 yards) missing the final 20 minutes of the game as coach Steve Struzyk played subs liberally in the final 24 minutes.
"It was a huge win; a big-league win," Struzyk said. "It puts us 3-0 in league which was our goal. The third season (playoffs) is getting ready to start, and we wanted to get a home playoff game."
The Grizzlies opened the game with the aforementioned onside kick. Owen Knobbe pushed the ball a few yards ahead of him and Michael Jones fell on it at the Carson 49.
"I didn't really see anything (on film), but we've been practicing that really hard. Our kicker (Owen Knobbe) has been getting better and better. He kicks that dribbler real well," Struzyk said.
Nine plays and two penalties later, the Grizzlies were in the end zone as Harger scored from the 2 for the first of his three scores. The drive was aided by two huge penalties. The first was a facemask penalty which pushed the ball down to the 17.
The second mistake was worse. Carson had actually stopped Galena on three straight running plays, forcing the Grizzlies to set up for a 27-yard field goal. Sophomore Brady Rivera jumped offside giving Galena a first down at the Carson 5. Harger scored two plays later. Knobbe's PAT made it 7-0.
"It's never a good thing when you lose the onside kick," Roman said. "It gave them momentum."
Late in the opening quarter each team put together good drives.
Galena drove to Carson's 25, but quarterback Brock Raggio was sacked for a 5-yard loss on a fourth-and-5 play from Carson's 25. Carson, thanks to a 23-yard run by Colby Brown, reached the Galena 22, but Casey Wolfe missed way right on a 43-yard field goal attempt.
The Grizzlies marched 80 yards for a score on their next possession. Harger had a big hand in damaging the Senators. He had an 11-yard run for a first down at the Galena 31, and after two short runs by Connor Marks, Raggio tossed a 17-yard pass to Tucker Melcher for first down at the Carson 48. Harger went the distance on the next play, shaking off a shirt-tail tackle attempt by a Carson defender at the 30-yard line. Knobbe's kick made it 14-0 with 10:21 left in the half.
Less than three minutes later, the Grizzlies were in the end zone yet again after Joey Thurman fumbled after gaining three yards on a short pass from Matt Nolan. Jones recovered the loose ball at the Carson 28.
Raggio found Chaz Clark for 26 yards down to the 2, and Marks scored on the next play. The PAT made it 21-0.
Carson, with the help of an unsportsmanlike penalty, drove to Galena's 39 on its next possession. On fourth-and-1, Brown bobbled a toss and was thrown for a 3-yard loss.
Four plays later, Harger scored on a 45-yard run. Harger ran to the middle of the line, and then bounced it outside and down the right sideline to make it 28-0 with 3:46 left in the half.
Three plays later it was 35-0, as Tyler Fernandez stepped in front of a Nolan pass and took it back 44 yards for a score. Knobbe added the PAT.
Galena scored on its first possession of the second half, and Struzyk went to his bench at that point.
Carson's offense continued to struggle in the second half. Roman, who had anointed Nolan the starter for the rest of the season, went to Garrett Schafer late in the third quarter. The junior went 5-for-10 for 47 yards. Nolan, who missed his first five attempts, was 5-for-13 for 42 yards.
When asked about the QB situation, Roman was noncommittal as to whether he would stay with Nolan at quarterback or go back to his two-QB platoon.