Manogue overcomes valiant effort by Carson | NevadaAppeal.com
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Manogue overcomes valiant effort by Carson

Mike Houser
Appeal Sports Writer

Usually the first appearance of snow in Northern Nevada ushers in the Northern 4A regional playoffs. But with the sky spitting a light, wet snow Friday night and the Bishop Manogue Miners and Carson Senators locked in a heated battle, the playoffs looked to have arrived six weeks early at Carson High School.

The Senators, behind a spirited defense and Robert Figuerora’s 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, held a 13-7 halftime lead before the Miners rallied to tie it in the third quarter before sealing the 27-13 victory with a a big play on special teams in the fourth quarter.

Manogue improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in their first season in the Sierra League and the gritty Senators fell to 1-1 in league and 1-4 overall.

All one had to do to gauge how badly the Senators wanted the upset victory was to speak with first-year head coach Blair Roman, who grew emotional and was temporarily unable to speak when asked about how the scoreboard wasn’t indicative of what kind of game it was.

“I’m really proud of the effort the kids gave,” Roman said. “We had our chances to win. I felt we should’ve won. The one thing we’re not going to be is a program of moral victories. We’ll come back Monday and try and figure out what went wrong.

“I give credit to Manogue. They played a good second half. We controlled the first half; they controlled the second half. The key plays they made, we didn’t make. Like that fourth-and-3 we didn’t get by four inches (in the third quarter). We couldn’t get the momentum going again.”

Carson had plenty of momentum early and senior running back Jake Madden capped off a seven-play drive by breaking through the middle of the Miners’ defense and scoring from 18 yards out with 48 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Carson kicker Ean Witter missed the extra point, but the Senators took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.

Manogue quarterback Patrick Riggs misfired early and completed only one of his first seven passes for seven yards as Carson outgained the Miners 71-54 in the opening 12 minutes.

“We opened up and drove the field, but we didn’t do much,” said fourth-year Manogue coach Paul Mills. “We had a couple penalties and some second- and third-and-longs for bad field position. We weren’t able to sustain drives.”

Riggs, who finished 7-of-16 for 94 yards and one touchdown, started to find his rhythm toward the end of the second quarter, hitting tight end Jamie Clavell-Head for a 23-yard score with 5:05 left in the half. Carson blocked Dominic Gonzales’ extra point and it was tied, 6-6.

It took exactly one play for the Senators to regain their momentum as Figuerora broke loose on the ensuing kickoff for a 13-7 Carson lead.

“Robert’s probably the fastest player on the team,” Roman said. “He and (running back Mark) Sinnott are neck and neck. Robert’s electrifying when he gets into the open field.”

It was also a solid defensive performance from a Carson defense that had surrendered 52 points to McQueen and 47 to Reed in a pair of losses.

“It was pretty indicative of how hard our kids have worked on tackling after the Reed game (three weeks ago),” Roman said. “We really committed ourselves to being better tacklers. It showed today against some skill players.”

Manogue, which ougained the Senators 307-197, came out stronger in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Zach McElroy, who was in for a temporarily injured Riggs, reversed field and capped off a nine-play drive with a 12-yard run to tie it 13-all with 4:02 left in the third.

“Like I told the team, our defense definitely kept us in the game in the first half,” Mills said. “We were sputtering offensively. We made some halftime adjustments and played at the level we were capable of.”

Carson responded with a 57-yard drive of its own, but the series bogged down when Madden was stopped at the Manogue 23 on a fourth-and 3.

Manogue running back extraordinaire Josh DuPree put the Miners on top 20-13 with a 30-yard dash around the right side with 9:43 to go in the game. But after Carson was held to a three-and-out on the next possession, Manogue senior defensive lineman Jered Snow blocked an Ean Witter punt, recovered the bouncing ball himself and took it in from 14 yards out to effectively ice the game with 8:17 to go.

The Miners, who moved up to Class 4A in 2004, showed they are a team to be reckoned with as they move into league play.

“After the three preconference games, we talked last week about the Wooster (a 49-14 win) and Carson games,” Mills said. “It’s a new season for us. At the end of the season, these are the games that will matter.”

Carson junior quarterback Blake Plattsmier finished the game 10-of-15 for 109 yards with no interceptions. Plattsmier, who worked mostly under center instead of from the Pistol formation, looked more comfortable than he did in his first few games.

“Like I said, he really came on in the fourth quarter last week (in a 39-22 comeback win over South Tahoe),” Roman said of Plattsmier. “That confidence helped him into tonight. He had some good throws when we needed it. The offensive line gave him lots of time. I am really pleased with the progress of our offensive line.”

Carson was missing Sinnott, who came down with the flu on Thursday and wasn’t on the sidelines. Fellow back Erik Roberson left the game with a probable concussion in the third quarter. He was to undertake a CT-scan and get stitches over his right eye after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit with 7:56 to go in the third.

Madden led the Senators with 68 yards on 18 carries.

“Jake showed what type of back he can be,” Roman said. “I’ve always had confidence with him. We’re not a team filled with stars. The kids know their role. We’re at the point where we need to knock somebody off. We’re not buying into the moral victory thing.”

Carson will travel to Reno to play Wooster on Saturday. The game begins at 1:30 p.m. at Wooster High School.

“Anytime you go on the road in league, you’d better be ready,” Roman said. “Wooster will be ready for us. We’ll have to bounce back and get ready for them, too.”