Douglas squeezes past Carson, 27-25, on last-second field goal
For the Douglas High School football team, it was only fitting that after two consecutive seasons of losing to arch-rival Carson on a last-second field goal, the Tigers were able to turn the tables on the Senators.
Douglas senior Conner Greth, attempting only the third field goal of his career, booted a line drive cleanly through the uprights from 26 yards out with 10 seconds left to clinch a 27-25 win for the Tigers Thursday night in Carson City.
The win propelled the Tigers (4-5, 1-3) into next week’s regional playoffs, where they will face Reed in Sparks, while Carson saw its season end on a four-game losing streak.
“I’m just trying to keep it in context,” an overwhelmed Greth said. “It’s just one play of the whole game, I can’t say that’s what won us the game.”
“My legs were shaking a little bit when I got out there, but I knew the snap and the hold would be perfect. We do it every day in practice. My hands were up as soon as I hit it. I can’t stop smiling. It’s a good feeling.”
Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said there was no doubt in his mind to bring Greth – who kicked his second field goal of the season earlier in the quarter from 34 yards – out for the game-winner.
“He’s 3-for-3 now, there was no doubt in my mind he was going to make it,” Monfiletto said. “He’s 100 percent on the year. This kid kicks every day in practice and the snap by Conner Miller, the kick from Conner Greth were both fantastic. Those kids stepped up when we asked them to.”
There were 6 seconds left on the clock following Greth’s kick. Following the kickoff, Carson had just enough time to line up one more play.
The Senators attempted a double pass, with quarterback Garrett Schafer hitting Matt Nolan out to the left and Nolan dropping back for a Hail Mary. All of Nolan’s options were covered, though, and he ran ahead for a short gain before he was swarmed by Tiger defenders to end the game.
“We got the win,” Monfiletto said. “That was the biggest thing. That’s for the last two times we got inched out at the end. Our record doesn’t indicate the success this team has had this year. Now our eyes are set on Reed.”
While Douglas statistically dominated the game, outgaining the Senators 452-305 in total offense and running up 21 first downs to Carson’s 12, Carson simply made the plays it needed to in order to carry a 25-24 lead into the final minutes.
Carson fell victim to a missed extra point and a pair of failed two-point conversions, including after its final touchdown, which could have made a difference in the final outcome.
“I feel bad for our seniors because they wanted this game so bad,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “I think they showed a lot of heart tonight. It was a nice thing to see.”
The Senators took immediate control at the start of the game, forcing and recovering a fumble from Douglas running back Conner Peterson on the second play of the game and scoring three plays later on a 13-yard pass from Schafer to Luke Maher.
The extra point failed, leaving Carson with a 6-0 lead. The teams then traded punts before Carson put together a promising seven-play drive that ended abruptly when Peterson recovered a fumbled snap at the Douglas 37.
Douglas, which has exclusively run out of a spread formation on offense all season, came on in an inverted wishbone formation with seniors EJ Rose and Cody Hayes lining up as fullbacks on either side of quarterback Michael Nolting, who was behind center at pistol depth.
Peterson ripped off an 11-yard gain to open the drive and Nolting later capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Dusty Fisher, who did a nice job to get his foot down in the back of the end zone for the 7-6 lead.
Douglas employed the scheme on three of its five scoring drives on the night. Monfiletto said the bye week leading up to the Carson game allowed his team the time to install the package.
“We just felt like we were getting stale,” Monfiletto said. “We felt like we needed something else to work with. We’re not extremely deep at running back, but we had depth with our fullbacks. We decided last Monday we were going to put that in. We practiced it and we were just waiting for the right time to go with it. I wanted (good) field position before we went that route.”
The move, which gave Peterson two lead blockers and Nolting some interesting options to work with out of the play-action pass, provided an instant spark for the Tigers.
“We just wanted to get in there and show kind of a tougher offense,” said Hayes, who also had a strong game at defensive end for the Tigers. “It was pretty much just us getting out there and trying to run some people over with the blocks. It got everyone fired up. It was a great game to try it. The playoffs were on the line and it kind of got us into it.”
Peterson finished the night with 123 rushing yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
“I thought it was a good adjustment,” Roman said. “Frankly, I think they should have run that offense a lot more.”
Douglas forced a Carson punt on the next possession and went back to the spread.
The Tigers drove 70 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a seven-yard pass from Nolting to Garet Rice for the 14-6 lead with 18 seconds left in the half.
Nolting finished the night with 23 completions on 31 attempts for 287 yards.
Douglas forced Carson to turn the ball over on downs on the first possession of the second half and, again employing the inverted wishbone, drove 65 yards on 13 plays to go up 21-6 on a 3-yard Peterson run with 2:18 left in the third quarter.
The Douglas defense had its second strong outing in a row – posting stops on six consecutive Carson possessions while building the lead.
“These guys did a fantastic job of defending Carson,” Monfiletto said. “We felt like we were prepared. It was just a matter of execution. The kids stepped up and executed.”
The Tigers appeared ready to stop the Senators for a seventh-consecutive possessions, forcing a third-and-13 with 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
A Tiger defender got a hand on Schafer’s ensuing pass, but it was tipped straight into Maher’s hands for a huge 32-yard gain.
The play sparked Carson and sophomore Colby Brown, who finished the night with 20 carries for 152 yards, sprinted 21 yards for a touchdown three plays later to cut the score to 21-13.
Then things really got interesting.
Two plays into Douglas’ next possession, Nolting was attempting to elude a sack when the ball slipped out of his hands. Carson’s Dakota Baker scooped it up and ran 30 yards untouched for his first touchdown of the season with 10:37 remaining in the game.
The snap on the two-point conversion attempt was fumbled, leaving the score at 21-19 in favor of Douglas.
Douglas used 14 plays to drive 80 yards, and milk 5 minutes, 39 seconds off the clock, before Greth booted a 34-yard field goal to extend the lead to 24-19.
“Something the new offense let us do was really burn down that clock a bit,” Monfiletto said.
Carson refused to go away, though, as Brown broke free for a 40-yard run with 4:17 left that set the Senators up in scoring position at the Douglas 27.
Four plays later, Schafer found Nolan for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth-and-4 to put Carson up 25-24.
The play came after Carson called a timeout to organize for what could’ve realistically been a game-clinching stop for Douglas.
“Coach (Steve) Dilley called the play,” Nolan said. “We ran some stop and gos and the defensive back kept biting on it, so we ran the stop and go.”
The two-point conversion, a sweep to the left from Nolan which came from the 7-yard line after a pair of delay penalties on Carson and a holding call on Douglas, was stopped just short of the goal line.
That set up Douglas’ game-winning drive, which was highlighted by a 30-yard completion from Nolting to Fisher and a 19-yard completion from Nolting to Wes Hundley.
In total, Nolting completed passes to seven different receivers, and carried the ball himself 10 times for 30 yards.
Schafer completed six passes for 108 yard for Carson, while Nolan was 3-for-3 for 24 yards.
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.