Douglas shuts down South Tahoe |

Douglas shuts down South Tahoe

by Joey Crandall

Facing arguably the top passing offense in the Northern 4A, the Douglas defense didn’t flinch for a second.

Douglas held South Tahoe quarterback Mikey Van Gorden to 142 passing yards, 81 of which came on a single third-quarter drive ending in a missed field goal, and held the Vikings to 182 total yards en route to a 31-14 victory at Keith Roman Field in Minden Friday night.

“We had some troubles with the pass in the past but we stepped up this week,” Douglas linebacker Keenan Copp, who had two of the Tigers’ six sacks on the night, said. ” We worked hard all week, and the scout team gave us great looks. We took it as a challenge and they didn’t get into the end zone on our defense.”

Douglas didn’t allow the Vikings offense any closer than the Tiger 29 yard line.

“We were preparing the defensive backfield all week for them,” safety Bryan Brady said. “We got back there and our linebackers did a great job dropping back and taking away the slants for most of the night.

“It was awesome coming out on homecoming and doing this to this team. Two years ago we went up there as junior varsity players and we didn’t have a very good game, they beat us by 30 points. We knew we were in for a fight, and we came out and we were ready.”

The Douglas defense set the tone from the opening snap, as two Tiger linemen converged on Van Gorden, forcing a fumble which led to a 3-yard Spike Agosta touchdown run four plays later.

Van Gorden fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the South Tahoe five but picked it up and ran up the middle for a 95-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.

Douglas’ Roman Davis threw an interception on the next possession but on the following play, South Tahoe’s second offensively of the game, Zack Johnson picked off a deep Van Gorden pass at the Tiger 10 and returned it 90 yards for the touchdown.

“This was a hard team to defend,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “Their quarterback can throw the ball and you can’t close down everything on them.

“I told them that South Tahoe would get some big plays on us. I told them not to panic, that they’d get some yards, but we had to keep playing hard-nosed because tough teams win and that’s exactly what happened.”

The Tiger defensive line stayed in Van Gorden’s face all night, forcing him to throw early. Kyle Luken, Tyson Estes, Mike Buffo, Keenan Copp, Brent Koontz and Nate Newton each had a hand in at least one of the six sacks, good enough for losses totaling 35 yards.

Douglas nose guard Tyree Holeridge was also instrumental in getting pressure on Van Gorden and plugging up the holes for the Viking runners, who amassed 40 yards in the game.

“It was a big change preparing for this game,” Luken said. “We had to condition a lot this week because we know the game was going to last a lot longer because they throw so much. We started off conditioning hard, we worked a lot more on our drop-backs and just went from there.”

Douglas built the lead to 21-7 by the end of the first quarter, with Roman Davis running a play-action pass roll out to the right to perfection, hitting a wide-open D.J. Brady in stride for a 28-yard touchdown.

Agosta, who finished the night with 182 yards on 29 carries, ran untouched from the South Tahoe 25-yard line to put Douglas up 28-7 in the second quarter.

On the Tigers’ following possession, South Tahoe defensive lineman Eric Pacheco stepped in front of a dump pass from Davis and returned it 10 yards for South Tahoe’s second touchdown of the night.

“Interceptions happen,” Rippee said. “You put the ball up against a good defense and sometimes that happens. There is no problem with that. We played through those pretty well and I thought Roman did a great job of running this offense tonight.

“He’s a tough kid, you can give him the ball and he’ll run it up inside unafraid. He’s just getting better all the time.”

Davis finished the night 6-for-10 for 74 yards in the air to go with 46 yards on the ground. He was not sacked once, a credit to the Tigers’ offensive line, which for the fourth consecutive week was extremely effective.

“We have to be more consistent, we have two or three big plays and then two or three not so big plays,” Rippee said. “The nice thing was that we didn’t put the ball on the ground tonight and I was real happy with that.”

Douglas travels to Hug High next week for a matchup of the two top teams in the Sierra League at 7:30 p.m.