In a season that has produced a number of highlights, the Douglas defense on Friday night managed to rise to the occasion once again.
The effort just wasn’t enough for the Tigers in a 19-13 overtime loss at the hands of rival Carson. The Sierra League champion Senators, who came into the game averaging 30 points per game, scored 13 points in regulation and seven of those came from an interception return in the fourth quarter.
“That whole group, it was just a great defensive effort,” said Steve Wilcox, who coaches the Tigers’ defensive ends. “Without a doubt, that was one of their best efforts ... Carson has a pretty good offensive team with all the stuff they do.”
Even though the Senators moved the ball, the yardage didn’t translate into points. On the game’s opening series, Carson drove to the Douglas 43 before stalling, the key play coming on Wyatt Eichhorst’s quarterback sack on a second-and-9 play.
The Senators also crossed midfield on their next possession, only to turn the ball over when the ball was stripped away after a 17-yard pass completion with Zach Kindred recovering the fumble recovery. And they moved to the Douglas 32 shortly before halftime, only to turn the ball over on downs.
The Senators drove to the 25 on their opening possession of the third quarter, but were denied once again when Kaleb Foster intercepted a short pass on third-and-7.
“I thought their defensive effort was great,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “They’ve been solid all year; I felt we moved the ball well between the 20s, but then they’d stiffen and hold.”
The defensive unit also created an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation after Rocky Hanson’s punt pinned Carson back at the 10 with 3:06 to go. Kinder stopped Nevin Elliott’s run for a 1-yard loss on first down and Schafer’s two ensuing passes fell incomplete, forcing the Senators to punt.
Douglas got the ball back at the Carson 33 with 2:20 showing on the clock, however, Carson came up with a big stop of its own by forcing the Tigers into a three-and-out situation and another punt.
Carson’s Joey Thurman scored from 2 yards out on a third-down run in the opening series of overtime, but then, linebacker Kyle Adams provided a ray of light when he broke through to block the PAT attempt (his fifth PAT/field goal block this season).
The Tigers didn’t do anything fancy on the defensive side.
“We just played our base defense,” Wilcox said. “Our front seven is as good as any in the league.”