WINNEMUCCA — Offensively speaking, the Douglas High School football team couldn’t have scripted a better start on Friday than its opening drive against Reno.
Eighty yards in 10 plays, all on the ground. No penalties and 4:04 taken off the clock. And Nick Abreu capped the drive off with a 13-yard sweep around left end for a touchdown as Douglas went up 7-0.
The Tigers were unable to sustain their early momentum, however, as the Reno Huskies scored touchdowns on three successive possessions en route to a 28-21 non-conference victory.
Blake Jamieson caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Young with 3:57 left to give Reno its first lead of the game, and Jeremy Smith intercepted a pass at the goal line as time expired at Lowry High School’s Jerry Tobin Field.
The two teams traveled east to escape air quality issues that have plagued western Nevada for more than a week due to smoke from the Rim fire. About 60 Douglas fans made the trip and saw a game that came down to the final play.
“The kids played extremely hard,” Douglas coach Ernie Monfiletto said. “I’m happy with their effort. We just had some mental errors for our first time on the field and as a result we came out on the short end of the stick.”
Douglas had a chance to at least tie the score at the end. The Tigers drove from their own 27 in 13 plays, aided by a pass interference call in the end zone on a fourth-down pass with 6.0 seconds showing on the clock. They were unable to capitalize on the opportunity, however, as quarterback Wes Hundley’s pass was intercepted.
Hundley completed five straight passes, including a diving catch by Garet Rice for an 18-yard gain and first-down at Reno’s 8. A.J. Pfaffenberger also had key receptions that covered 14 and 6 yards and Hundley had a 16-yard run.
The Douglas defense came up big shortly before halftime when it stopped Young on a fourth-and-1 sneak at the 21 — ending a 12-play drive. Cale Kynett, Wyatt Eichhorst and Andrew Jensen led the charge on a stop as Douglas took a 14-7 lead to halftime.
Reno began the second half with an 11-play drive to tie the score at 14 on Cole Eddy’s 2-yard touchdown run. The Huskies had picked an all-important first down just moments before when, Ollie Graybar lined up for a 21-yard field goal on fourth-and-2, and the Tigers jumped offside.
“They were trying to draw us offside,” Monfiletto said. “That was a critical error on our part, and that’s unacceptable.”
Douglas answered with another 80-yard, 10-play drive — all on the ground — to regain the lead. Mason Rhoads swept his left end for a 19-yard gain to the 27 and two plays later Abreu scored his second touchdown on a 24-yard burst up the middle to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead.
Reno struck back quickly to tie the score again. Young started with a 31-yard run and then concluded the 69-yard, six-play drive on a 3-yard touchdown run with 11:03 left to play.
Even though Douglas went three-and-out from the 20 on its next possession, punter Tay Simms delivered a 44-yard punt that forced the Huskies to start their next possession from the 35.
Reno was clutch on its final possession, though. Young completed a 9-yard pass to Jamieson on third-and-9. Eddy bolted 20 yards on third-and-1 to the Douglas 26. Then, after Reno was flagged on a holding call, Young found Jamieson in the end zone on a first-and-20 pass for the go-ahead touchdown.
Douglas was impressive on its opening drive. Rhoads weaved his way for a 24-yard gain on the third play. One of the key plays during the drive Hundley converted a fourth-and-1 play as he pushed two yards on a sneak.
“You’d have to go back more than 10 years that there’s been a drive of five plays or more and we haven’t thrown a pass,” Monfiletto said. “Those kids have worked hard to put themselves in that position (to play like that). We had a couple of drives like that. We just need to do that more often.”
Reno answered immediately, as the Huskies drove 74 yards on eight plays. Young scrambled 28 yards for the game-tying touchdown, breaking three tackles on his way to the end zone.
Douglas regained the lead three plays later when linebacker Taylor Souza stepped in front of a third-down pass by Young and returned the interception for a touchdown to make it 14-7 with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
Monfiletto was simply happy to have had the chance to play the game after practicing for more than a week inside the school gym due to the smoke.
“We’re extremely happy,” he said. “We drove three-and-a-half hours to get better. This arena football thing has worn out its welcome. It was important we got a game under our belt. Now we’re ready to start preparing for another really good football team (McQueen) next week.”