Douglas is snowed under
By DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal News Service
MINDEN – Nick Summers glanced around the Douglas High locker room, a chagrined look on his face.
“It doesn’t seem like this is right,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “It’s not the way it’s supposed to go this year. Everything was perfect until tonight.”
Indeed. The Tigers had steamrolled the opposition en route to a school-record 11 straight wins, and seem destined to make the state playoffs for the first time since moving up to large-school status.
Somebody forgot to tell Reno High, a team that Douglas vanquished by 20 points earlier this year.
The Huskies capitalized on two huge Douglas mistakes early, and rolled to a 34-14 win Friday night before a packed house at snowy Keith Roman Field.
‘We got beat; outplayed,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “That happens sometimes. They took advantage of all our miscues.
“It takes nothing away from what these kids accomplished. I’m real proud of these guys.”
The snow, which started to fall about an hour before game time, was a huge factor in the game, and many felt aided Reno because of its ability to control the ball on the ground.
Rippee, however, wouldn’t blame the weather on his team’s slow start and inability to move the ball in the first half.
“Both teams had to play in it,” he said. “Obviously we’re not a good inclimate weather team.”
Rippee was referring to last year’s 7-6 first-round playoff setback to Galena, a game played in monsoon-like conditions. Rippee did admit that inclimate weather took away things Douglas likes to do offensively.
Reno scored just 91 seconds into the game when Ryan McKinley blocked Tim Coleman’s punt and Jake Killeen recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. Coleman bobbled the snap, which gave Killeen and his teammates just enough time to penetrate the Douglas backfield. On the point-after, Proctor Hug, the holder, fumbled the snap yet swept left end for the two-point conversion.
“We haven’t had a punt blocked all year,” Rippee said. “That was a big play.”
Bad things continued to happen to the Tigers.
On first down, Keenan Copp had the ball jarred loose at the 21, and Sean Bingham recovered for the Huskies.
Three plays later, Conor Martin scored on a 19-yard run for a 14-0 Reno lead with 9:02 left in the opening quarter. Martin, who finished with 158 yards on 21 carries, was just warming up.
Reno took a 22-0 lead early in the second quarter when Tom Barcia grabbed a Coleman punt at his own 30, sidestepped a couple of Douglas defenders, broke a tackle around midfield and went the rest of the way untouched. Martin added the conversion run.
It was the first time Douglas had allowed a punt return for a score all season.
Douglas was forced to punt on its next possession, and Coleman pinned Reno at its own 2 with a 53-yard punt.
Martin was stopped for no gain on first down, but broke loose for a 98-yard scoring run. The conversion failed, but the Huskies had an insurmountable 28-0 lead.
Douglas finally got on the board on its first possession of the second half, driving 80 yards on 16 plays, chewing up 6 1/2 minutes on the clock. Dusty Cooper scored on a 1-yard run to cap the drive.
Luke Rippee, who finished 15 of 23 for 180 yards, completed five of six passes for 47 yards to highlight the drive. Rippee’s two-point conversion pass to McIntosh was good.
Another special teams miscue led to Reno’s next touchdown, as Coleman bobbled the snap and got off just a 2-yard punt, giving the Huskies a first down at the DHS 28.
Reno quarterback John Wallace threw for three yards to Wes Evans, and Martin gained four down to the 21. On the next play, Wallace threw the ball in the right flat to Martin, who scampered into the end zone to make it 34-8.
After an exchange of punts, Douglas scored its last touchdown on an 11-play, 72-yard drive. Rippee passed 10 yards to Nolan Brockhage for the score with 1:38 left.
Time, unfortunately ran out on the Tigers, ending their Cinderella season two weeks earlier than they hoped.
“This was a special group of kids,” Rippee said. “To go 11-0 and play in the championship game… It’s hard to swallow when you lose a game, but it was a great opportunity to play in such a big game.”