Big plays were the difference Friday night for the McQueen High football team in its 40-14 victory against Douglas.
For the Lancers (2-0), those big plays happened in bunches — two touchdowns within a span of less than three minutes in the first quarter and two more within a span of 40 seconds shortly before halftime — during the nonconference contest at Ken Dalton Field.
The last of those McQueen scores came on a fumble on an attempted punt that was recovered in the end zone for a 28-14 halftime lead. Two other big special teams plays — a blocked punt and a failed fake punt — set up two McQueen scores. All together, it was too much for Douglas (0-2) to overcome against one of Nevada’s most successful prep football programs (six state titles and 11 regional titles over the past three decades (six state and 11 regional championships over the past three decades).
Big plays? Coach Ernie Monfiletto broke it down even further when he pointed to three special teams miscues.
“That momentum happened because of three big plays on special teams, in my opinion,” Monfiletto said. “The special teams gave them a blocked punt, a touchdown in the end zone and the fake punt. Those three plays gave them field position; that’s 21 points we gave them.
“That’s not good coaching and that’s not good execution by the kids on the field. That’s on the whole team, that’s on everybody; we work on special teams every day.”
The Lancers had six runs of 20 yards or better on the night — three for touchdowns. The tone was set early when the McQueen’s Ricky Thomas Jr. recovered a fumble at the 26 to set up Patrick DeLeon’s 25-yard touchdown run on a third-and-23 play. Later in the first quarter, Douglas’ failed fake punt set up McQueen’s 31-yard, four-play drive that ended when Lucas Weber busted a 21-yard touchdown run up the middle on second-and-14.
The 40-14 score does not reflect on the true performance of the Douglas defense, according to Monfiletto.
“I’ll tell you, our defense played a heck of a game; those guys kept us in the game,” he said. “Sure, there are things we need to fix, but they gave us an opportunity to compete.”
Give credit to the Lancers defensively. Take away an 80-yard, 10-play scoring drive in the second quarter, and the Tigers only had 37 yards in total offense during the first half. And then they were limited to negative yardage in the third quarter. In its season-opening win one week before, McQueen only gave up 45 yards in the first-half against a traditionally potent Nevada Union wing-T offense.
Douglas was right in the game in the second quarter thanks to that long scoring drive and a touchdown from its own defense.
The scoring drive was ignited by quarterback Wes Hundley’s 25-yard pass completion to Bailey Vidaurri. Nick Abreu followed with a 21-yard run, with 15 more yards tacked on by a penalty at the end of the play for first down at the 18. Hundley scrambles 17 yards to convert a fourth-and-15 play and two plays later Hundley scored on a 10-yard run to cut McQueen’s lead to 14-7.
Douglas tied the score 14-14 when Zachary Moehle-Boston recovered a fumble in the end zone that resulted from Wyatt Eichhorst’s quarterback sack with 3:34 left before halftime.
McQueen answered immediately as Weber broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage en route to a 68-yard touchdown. Kyle Adams blocked the PAT attempt (he had two on the night) to keep the Lancers’ lead at 20-14 lead.
The Lancers got another break before the intermission on a misplayed punt attempt and John Weiderhold recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown and 28-14 lead.
The Douglas defense came up with a stop to start the third quarter. McQueen drove to the 26, but stalled after Kaleb Foster QB sack on third down followed by a Garet Rice interception on a fourth-down pass play.
A blocked punt on the ensuing series, however, set the Lancers up with first-and-goal. Weber scored his third touchdown moments later on a 9-yard run.
Errors put the Tigers in a position of needing a miracle comeback to win.
“Like my old coach used to say, there are no miracles, just discipline,” Monfiletto said. “And we didn’t have discipline tonight.”
McQueen defeated Douglas Thursday, 55-0. The Tigers had mostly been limited to indoor practices over the past two weeks due to smoky skies.
“It was nice to get outside,” coach Ollie Herald said. “There are things you can’t work on in the gym, and it showed. We’ve been outside twice now and I can see the improvement already. We’ll get better from here.”
Defensive end Cade Pankey scored two touchdowns, one on a return of a short punt and the other on a fumble recovery in a game Douglas lost to McQueen, 40-13. Pankey, one of the team’s co-captains, ran 70 yards with a fumble forced by Taran Grove. Defensive tackle Guy Rogers and Isiah Schat at quarterback and linebacker played well for the Tigers, according to coach J.P. Albert.