Galena beats the Cougars
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It certainly wasn’t Galena High’s best effort of the season, but the Grizzlies played well enough to win, and that’s the most important thing.
Galena scored 17 second-quarter points and the defense played an outstanding first half en route to a 27-14 victory over Spanish Springs Friday night at Grizzly Field.
Galena improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in conference. Spanish Springs is 3-2 and 1-1, respectively.
“This was a scary game,” Galena coach Steve Struzyk said. “Getting out of this with a win is big, especially against a team that was 3-1. Having a letdown (after last week’s win against Reed) was something we were staring at.
“They (Spanish Springs) played well on defense. They were aggressive on defense, and they put a lot of pressure on Jacob (Anderson).”
This game should have been over in the first seven or eight minutes, and it was the Cougars’ defense, led by Justin Fronberg, Ryan Toomey, Ethan Ducharme and Anthony Masten, that kept it from happening.
Galena took the opening kickoff, and thanks to runs of 15 and 17 yards by Pete Lazzari, and Anderson’s 11-yard pass to Jason Parkinson, moved the ball to the Cougars’ 15.
The drive came to a screeching halt. Anderson was dropped after a yard gain, but Lazzari gained six down to the 8. Lazzari was stopped for no gain on third down, and Niko Leyva stopped Jake Hess on fourth down at the 6, a yard short of a first down.
The Cougars put themselves in a hole moments later when Mitch McLane fumbled at the 11, and Lazzari came up with the recovery.
Despite having success running the ball on that opening drive, the Grizzlies went to the air three straight times and came up empty. Mike Parker kicked a 27-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 5:51 left in the quarter.
“It was a different tempo,” Lazzari said. “We’re used to coming out fast and putting points on the board. We would put it inside the 20 and then … we’re definitely lucky we have a good field goal kicker.”
Struzyk said he would have been real concerned about those first two drives had his team not been moving the ball.
Spanish Springs got to the Galena 38 on its next drive, but had to kick it away after recording two first downs. That was a microcosm of the first half. The Cougars were unable to sustain any drives.
The Grizzlies’ offense put together an eight-play 80-yard drive after the Spanish Springs punt. Parkinson got behind Chris Misanik on a second-and-13 play, and Anderson (20 of 35, 199 yards) lofted a perfect pass in the right corner of the end zone to complete the 26-yard scoring play. Parker’s PAT made it 10-0.
The defense continued to dig in, holding the Cougars to one yard on the next possession, and a 20-yard punt gave the Grizzlies great field position at the Cougars’ 41. They didn’t waste it.
Anderson completed a six-yard pass to Parkinson (12 for 139) for a first down at the Cougars’ 29, and then hooked up with Lazzari for a 16-yarder to the 18. Facing a third-and-12, Anderson completed a 19-yarder to Parkinson, who was pulled down at the 1. Jake Hess barreled over on the next play. Parker’s PAT made it 17-0.
After another three-and-out, Galena took over at its own 44 and drove down to the Cougars’ 26 where the drive petered out. Parker boomed a 44-yard field goal for a 20-0 lead.
Spanish Springs was held to 86 yards unofficially in that first half, and that’s an impressive total given the nature of the Cougars’ offense which is based on deception and misdirection.
“That offense is hard to get ready for,” Hess said. “It’s a fast offense. You have to focus. They keep going one direction, and then they’ll come back the other way.”
The Cougars took the second-half kickoff and put together an impressive 85-yard scoring drive that was capped by Robert Hanna’s quarterback sneak. The most impressive thing about the drive is that the Cougars faced only one third-down situation.
Defensive back Jake Mansfield was hit with a questionable pass interference penalty which gave the Cougars a first down at their own 41. Hanna completed a 19-yard pass to Drew Shimkowski for a first down at the 30 and Jacob Lawrence ran 17 yards down to the Galena 1.
“That used up a lot of the quarter,” Struzyk said of the nearly 4 1/2-minute drive.
The Grizzlies drove the ball to Spanish Springs’ 25 on their next drive, but came up empty when Parker’s 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Galena’s next two drives were unimpressive.
The first ended at the Cougars’ 23, as Anderson was bothered twice by heavy pressure. The second ended prematurely because of two big penalties.
A costly holding penalty squashed the Cougars’ comeback attempt on the next drive. And, to make matters worse, the Cougars’ sideline was given an unsportsmanlike penalty after Hanna’s a third-down pass sailed incomplete. The Cougars lost the ball on downs when a fourth-down pass sailed incomplete.
Galena drove the proverbial nail in Spanish Springs’ coffin moments later.
Ryan Howsley carried three times for 40 yards, including a 6-yard TD run with 4:37 left in the game. Howsley gained 70 yards rushing, 30 coming on one carry in that final drive.
“That’s fresh legs,” said Lazzari, who finished with 113 yards on 13 carries. “Ryan did a nice job.”
So did the offensive line – at least in the run game. Galena ran for 205 yards on 31 carries, an average of six-plus yards an attempt.