Galena wins wild shootout against Hug
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Jacob Anderson threw a season-high five touchdown passes, and the Galena Grizzlies needed every last one of them.
Anderson hooked up with Jason Parkinson three times and Steve Blackhart twice, as Galena outlasted visiting Hug 49-31 Friday night in the first round of the Northern 4A football playoffs.
The win sends Galena, 8-2, into the second round of the playoffs against Reno, the top seed from the Sierra League, next Friday night at Foster Field.
“We’ve got to keep it going,” Galena coach Steve Struzyk said. “Injuries hurt us a little on one side of the ball (defense). On offense, we kept it simple. (Pete) Lazzari ran his tail off.
“They were playing a cover 2, and we knew there would be some holes deep downfield.”
Anderson was quick to credit his receivers – Blackhart and Parkinson – for a lot of his success. Blackhart had three catches for 77 yards, including TD grabs of 54 and 19 yards. Parkinson had six grabs for 66 yards, including TD grabs of 33, 7 and 4 yards, respectively.
“The receivers ran good routes, and went up and got a couple of balls,” Anderson said. “We were hoping we wouldn’t need this many points. We knew this could end up being a shootout. Our defense stepped up at the end.”
A couple of Anderson’s passes barely eluded the outstretched hands of a Hug defender, according to Hug coach Rollins Stallworth.
“I think on every TD pass we had somebody back there (in good position),” Stallworth said. “Their kids executed the plays. They did a better job of getting to the ball than we did. Our kids played their butts off. They played hard.”
That’s an understatement. Hug never led, but stayed within striking distance the entire game because of the athleticism of David Knowles (19 carries, 159 yards, 2 TDs) and QB Michael Williams, who set up one Hug score with a 50-yard run on a fake punt and then scrambled around and through the entire Galena defense for a 26-yard TD in the final quarter.
The Grizzlies grabbed a quick 14-0 lead, driving 63 yards on their opening possession which was capped by Anderson’s 33-yard TD pass to Parkinson. Michael Parker’s PAT made it 7-0 with 9:47 left.
Less than three minutes later and after a 28-yard punt, the Grizzlies were on the board again. Anderson capped a 47-yard drive with a 19-yard pass to Blackhart despite good coverage by Kenny Lee. Parker’s PAT made it 14-0 with 7:28 left.
The Hawks were down, but certainly not out.
On second-and-4 from the 26, Knowles took a pitch and took off to the right. He faked a pitch to the wide receiver coming toward him, kept the ball and jetted down the sideline to complete the 76-yard play to make it 14-6.
Galena bounced back with an impressive 78-yard, nine-play scoring drive that was capped by Jake Hess’ 1-yard plunge with 11:23 left in the half for a 21-6 advantage.
Hess was impressive on the drive, carrying three times for 30 yards. Lazzari, who ended up unofficially with 123 yards, had a 20-yard carry to get the ball in the red zone.
Hug brought out another trick play from its arsenal on its next possession.
Facing a fourth-and-7 from his own 30, Williams eluded a heavy rush by Blackhart and took off. He weaved his way through and around the Grizzlies for 50 yards and a first down at the 20.
“We shouldn’t have been surprised,” Struzyk said. “We’d been talking all week about it. They ran it before against us. Williams did a good job of not punting the ball at first when Blackhart was coming in.”
Knowles took the ball to the 1 on the next play, but the Hawks were caught holding, nullifying the gain and sending them back to the Galena 33. Knowles scored two plays later, breaking a couple of tackles in the process to make it 21-12.
Galena made it a three-touchdown game on its next two drives for a 35-12 lead.
Anderson tossed a 54-yard bomb to Blackhart, and then Hug turned the ball over on a fumble at its own 11, and Lazzari scored two plays later on an 8-yard run.
The Hawks then seized momentum with two scores in the final 2 minutes 41 seconds of the half.
Popo Kilioni stepped in front of an Anderson pass and returned it 25 yards to make it 35-18 with 2:41 left.
Hug went for an onside kick and recovered at the Galena 48. Nine plays later, Williams threw a 13-yard pass to Courtney Gardner. The PA made it 35-25 with :09 left in the half.
After losing its last two of the regular season, the Grizzlies had to be thinking they were in some serious trouble.
Enter the defense, which allowed only 81 yards and only three first downs in the final two quarters.
The Hawks went three and out to open the second half, and the Grizzlies, thanks to two first-down runs by Jake Hess and a 20-yard completion to Luke Hess, drove 54 yards for a score. Anderson and Parker combined on the 7-yard scoring pass. Parker’s PAT made it 42-25 with 5:33 left.
The Grizzlies’ stepped up again on the next drive. On fourth-and-4 from the Galena 48, Tanner Golligleee and Levi Stafford stopped Knowles for no gain.
Anderson threw his second interception of the game on the next drive, but Parkinson recovered a Williams fumble at the Hug 24, and six plays later, caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Parkinson for a 49-25 lead.
In the end, the Hawks’ inabiity to move the ball through the air, made it impossible to come back. Galena was able to pressure them with run blitzes and was much more secure in tackling.
‘You have to be able to pass the ball better,” Stallworth said. “Michael isn’t an accomplished passer. Hopefully next year he will be, and that will add to our offense.”