MINDEN — The Carson and Douglas football game Friday night had a little bit of everything.
In the end it was Douglas who came out with a 34-24 win, holding onto The Rivalry Trophy and likely giving itself a shot at the postseason.
The two teams stayed within one possession heading into the fourth quarter before the Tigers were able to gain some separation.
Trailing 20-14, Carson put together a seven-play, 36-yard drive before getting pushed to fourth down at the Tiger nine-yard line.
The Senators opted for a 26-yard field goal from Jackson Kalicki to cut the gap to three, 20-17, with 11:14 remaining in regulation.
It didn’t take long for Douglas to respond as a 49-yard run from Trevor Kruger gave the Tigers first-and-goal at Carson’s four-yard line.
Douglas’ first play in the red zone was another run to Kruger in which the ball popped loose, but the Tiger halfback was ruled down by the officials.
Two plays later, Douglas quarterback Isaac Shaver called his own number and snuck it into the end zone around the left side of his offensive line to give the Tigers a 10-point lead with 9:43 to go.
It was the Tiger defense that stepped up next as Carson was forced to punt, following a three-and-out.
A couple of costly Carson penalties set the Tigers right back in the red zone where Shaver once again took the snap and ran it into the end zone himself, this time from four yards out to move Douglas in front 34-17 with 6:26 left in the final quarter.
“It was exciting because I think he had a big night,” said Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto of Shaver. “He was throwing the ball and controlling those last plays.”
Carson quickly took advantage of a quality kickoff return and after a completion from Jonny Laplante to Luke Conrad, the Senators sat on Douglas’ 29-yard line with a fresh set of downs.
Following a Douglas personal foul, Laplante copied Shaver’s style and scampered 11 yards to pay dirt on a designed quarterback draw, putting Carson down 10, 34-24, with 5:30 to go.
The Senators forced a quick three-and-out and got the ball back on their own 32-yard line with 3:47 to play, looking to get within a score.
Carson got the ball to midfield before a dropped pass on fourth down gave Douglas the ball back and allowed the Tigers to essentially run out the clock.
“We won our playoff game and that was beating Carson,” said Monfiletto. “To Carson’s credit, they came out and played hard.”
The Senators offense spent plenty of time on the field over the course of the night with several long drives. Unofficially, Carson ended the evening with 211 rushing yards.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as Douglas opened the game with a 14-0 lead.
Kruger posted an four-yard touchdown run on the Tigers’ opening drive to start the scoring. Two drives later — after Douglas stalled a 11-play Carson drive on fourth down — Race Coman ran to the far sideline before cutting and weaving his way back across the middle of the field for a 16-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
Laplante led Carson right back down the field on the Senators’ ensuing drive, capping the 12-play drive with an eight-yard carry into the end zone.
Like any good rivalry, Douglas didn’t let Carson have the last laugh when Shaver hit Cameron Swain on a 50-yard streak for a score to make it 20-7 after a failed 2-point conversion.
With the clock winding toward half, the Senators used their clock management to sit with the ball on their own 41 with two seconds to go.
For the second week in a row, Carson called on Bradley Maffei for a running back pass. Maffei nearly overthrew Laplante, but the super-utility senior was able to run underneath the pass and haul in a 59-yard score to close the half.
“It was just one of those plays where you get a feel for when to call it,” said Roman. “The kids felt confident in that play and Bradley just threw a hell of a pass.”
Laplante finished with two rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown and an interception in his final game dawning the Carson’s colors.
Senior Night celebration
Douglas paid tribute to its seniors prior to kickoff – a class that has gone 20-24 in its four years in the Tiger black and gold.
Monfiletto admitted Douglas isn’t the program it is without its senior class.
“I have a great group of seniors and those guys have led from start to end,” said Monfiletto. “I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Underneath the opposite goal post after the game, Roman was giving his seniors one last message after the Senators’ season closed.
“The biggest thing with this senior group is how they treated their teammates,” said Roman. “We will build off that and that’s the key. That’s the biggest legacy they’re going to leave. Our program was at a point where we needed that kind of thing to happen.”
In total, 37 seniors from the two programs will depart following the spring.
Douglas’ postseason scenario
With the win the Tigers move to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in Sierra League play. The Tigers’ two wins are tied with Galena and Wooster, whom Douglas holds the tiebreaker over should they both lose in their contests Saturday.
Wooster will host Bishop Manogue today (Saturday) while Galena plays host to Damonte Ranch Saturday as well.
If Wooster falls, Douglas will secure the No. 3 seed in the Sierra League and a spot in the postseason. Should the Colts pull an upset they will secure the No. 3 seed and Galena will sneak in as the No. 4 seed with its win over Douglas earlier this season, breaking that league tie.
Should Galena upset Damonte Ranch and Wooster fall to Manogue, Douglas would get into the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the Sierra League, winning the tiebreaker over the Colts.