You can call it heartbreaking. Or dramatic. Either way, Douglas High’s homecoming game Friday night against Spanish Springs will long be remembered for its 16-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final six minutes.
Spanish Springs (2-2) rode the legs and arm of quarterback Hunter Fralick, whose 5-yard touchdown run followed by a 2-point conversion with 31 seconds remaining capped a come-from-behind victory against Douglas (1-4) at Keith Roman Field.
From the Tigers’ point of view, however, missed opportunities may have been the key. Just consider they had the ball in Spanish Springs territory on three successive possessions in the fourth quarter — and came away empty handed each time. One of those began at the Spanish Springs 26 after a short punt and ended when they turned the ball over on downs at the 18. Two plays later Ryan Wasser made a diving interception at the 38, however, the Tigers went three-and-out and punted to the Spanish Springs 8 with 6:26 showing on the clock.
“When we get the turnovers, the offense has a responsibility to turn those around and score,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said.
For Douglas, the night began on a promising note when Nick Abreu caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Wes Hundley to cap a 91-yard drive. Abreu shook loose for a 37-yard gain on the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage.
Later, Abreu broke a 52-yard touchdown run on the third play of the second half as the Tigers extended their lead to 14-0.
Abreu, a junior tailback, rushed for 217 yards on 24 carries and gained another 46 yards on four receptions.
The key play for Spanish Springs on its game-winning drive came on fourth-and-long from the 31 when Fralick ran 22 yards to reach the first down marker and keep the drive alive.
Six plays later, on second-and-goal, Fralick scrambled for the touchdown.
Douglas was called for defensive holding in the end zone on the play, which gave the Cougars an opportunity to go for 2 points from inside the 2-yard marker. Fralick took the snap and followed the right side of his line into the end zone to make it 15-14.
Spanish Springs coach Scott Hare felt going for two points was a better option than playing for the tie and going to overtime.
“We hadn’t been running the ball well, and in overtime, when you’re trying to score from the 10 you need to be able to run the ball,” Hare said. “We had the momentum, so we threw the dice, and we won.”
Spanish Springs also capitalized on a big play to get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when Fralick rifled a 21-yard touchdown strike to Gehrig Parks over the middle on fourth-and-18. Fralick finished the night with 272 yards passing. Parks caught 12 balls for 120 yards.
No doubt, the win was a big one for Spanish Springs.
“It was big because of the way it came,” Hare said. “Douglas was up 14-0 and playing better than we were at that point, but the kids responded. I thought Douglas beat us for 27 minutes and we won the rest.”
Defensively, Douglas only allowed 73 yards rushing with more than half of that total coming on the last drive.
The Tigers also had five quarterback sacks. Kyle Adams and Wasser combined on the last of those to create fourth-and-long on the Cougars’ final drive. Andrew Jensen and Zack Singer had two sacks after Spanish Springs had driven into Douglas territory in the third quarter.
Douglas stopped another threat in the second quarter when Mason Rhoads stripped the ball and Garet Rice recovered the fumble at the 38.
“Our kids played a helluva game for 47-1/2 minutes,” said Monfiletto, whose Tigers begin their Sierra League season this coming Friday at Galena. “I’m proud of their effort. They were better than they were the week before, and better than the week before that.”