Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto was blunt and to the point.
He had watched his Tigers lose the last three games to arch-rival Carson by a combined score of 110-32.
“We were tired of being Carson’s doormat,” Monfiletto said. “Our goal was to win respect against a Carson team that I have a lot of respect for.”
Thanks to a great defensive stand early in the fourth quarter, a pick-six by Alex Harker and a ball-control offense, the Tigers broke their three-game losing streak against Carson with a 31-17 victory Thursday night at the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
The win gives the Tigers a 5-4 record, their first winning season since Monfiletto took over in 2012. The loss dropped the Senators to 5-4 overall.
“I’m disappointed we lost, but not disappointed in the kids,” said Carson coach Blair Roman, who admitted this was the most frustrating loss of the year. “We played so hard; played our hearts out. Things didn’t go our way. We put a lot of time into the season. I’m just disappointed we weren’t able to come out on top.”
The game essentially turned in the final 1-minute 52-seconds in the third quarter when Douglas scored 10 unanswered points in a span of 19 seconds to wipe out Carson’s 17-13 lead and go ahead 24-17.
Josh Gurule kicked a 42-yard field goal to cut Carson’s lead to 17-16, and on the first snap following the kick-off, Carson quarterback Daniel Morrison went back to pass and tried to hit Luke Myers on an out route. Harker stepped in front of the pass and returned it 30 yards for a score.
“Coach Monfiletto told me to watch for the out pattern,” Harker said. “I saw it and just stepped in. With all the adrenalin, I was afraid I wasn’t going to catch it. I caught it here (crook of the arm) and when I made sure it was secure, I looked up and had nothing but a clear path to the end zone.”
If that wasn’t bad enough for Carson, it got worse on the next drive.
Thanks to a 45-yard run by Abel Carter (21 carries, 203 yards), an 11-yard reception by Spencer Rogers and an 8-yard run by Carter on a option pass play that went awry, the Senators were first-and-goal at the 2. The next sequence of plays was enough to make you bang your head against the wall if you’re a Carson fan.
Rogers was thrown for a 1-yard loss, Tyler Huling was stopped for a 3-yard loss and then Carter was stacked up for a 2-yard loss. On fourth down, following a 5-yard delay penalty, Reagan Roberson broke through the line and partially blocked Johnny Barahona’s 30-yard field goal attempt.
“They (the defense) played out of their minds,” Monfiletto said. “I couldn’t be prouder. We definitely have had trouble getting stops this year.”
“Credit Douglas, they did an exceptional job in the red zone,” Roman said. “We had the ball three times in the red zone and didn’t score (a touchdown). Douglas stepped up in the red zone and that was the difference in the game.”
Carter was his usual sparkling self, scoring on runs of 25 and 28 yards, respectively. He could barely lift his head after the game, and that could have been from a hard shot he took along the sideline in the fourth quarter.
“Abel had a great game,” Roman said. “I thought Spencer ran hard and Tyler Huling had a couple of good runs.”
Carson had a chance on its next series, taking over at its own 43. The Senators were hit with two penalties. Facing a fourth-and-8 from their own 45, Roman called for a fake punt, but Carter’s pass fell incomplete.
“We were seven down,” Roman said. “I had to try and get a first down.”
Douglas took advantage of the great field position and drove in for a game-clinching score on Hunter Hickey’s 2-yard run. Hickey gained 93 yards on 15 carries.
Carson drove to Douglas’ 21, but Morrison threw an interception in the end zone.
Douglas dominated the line of scrimmage which is something both coaches stressed would be the difference in the game.
Douglas opened the game with a 5 1/2-minute drive and opened the second half with an 8-minute drive.
Those two possessions netted Douglas nine points.