RENO - Douglas High School had a twofold plan laid out for its Sierra League football opener against Hug on Friday night.
The Tigers wanted to control the ball and mount time consuming drives that would keep Hug's explosive offense off the field. And at the same time, they wanted to prevent big plays and force Hug to sustain some drives.
Instead, the unbeaten Hawks turned the tables as Antoine Barlow rushed for 121 yards on 15 carries to lead a balanced running attack in which four different players scored in a 26-0 victory against Douglas in Harrah's Bowl VIII at Grove Holcomb Field.
Marquis Martin also rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries and Greg Alexander picked up 75 yards and one touchdown on eight carries to help the Hawks improve to 4-0 overall, but more important, 2-0 in league play. The Hawks rushed for 268 yards as a team.
"The great thing that's been happening this year that's caught me by surprise, all of these backs are so unselfish," Hug coach Rollins Stallworth said. "We have a lot of talent in the backfield and these guys have been able to spread the ball around. It's been so positive because they practice hard together, they play well together, and they've all accepted their roles, and I think that's a key for our team right now."
The Tigers, who dropped to 1-3 overall, came out with the goal of establishing their ground game.
"We wanted to run the ball more," said coach Mike Rippee, whose Tigers were hindered by four interceptions and one lost fumble on the night. "We felt we needed to run the ball more than we threw. We were down there a couple of times in the first half, but we had a penalty one time and fumble the other time, and you can't do that against quality teams."
The Tigers threatened on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, only to turn the ball over both times. After the Tigers drove to the 27, Monte McCann's run to the 11 was brought back by a clipping penalty and two plays later Alexander came up with an interception. Then the Tigers drove to the 12 before a fumbled pitch was recovered by Barlow.
Meanwhile, Hug drove for touchdowns on its first two possessions to take a 13-0 lead.
The Hawks received the opening kickoff and drove 67 yards on 11 plays before Bakari Taylor shook a tackle in the backfield and burst into the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run. The 5-minute, 35-second drive came as a welcome sight, according to Stallworth.
"Our goal was, we haven't had a nine-play, 80-yard drive this whole year so we kind of needed to have one of those," Stallworth said. "When you're playing against a team with a pretty good stubborn defense who's going to prevent the big plays, you've got to be able to nickel and dime them and convert those third down plays and we were able to do that."
Then it was Alexander's speed, as the 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior burst 21 yards around his right end for a touchdown to cap a six-play, 71-yard drive.
The Tigers took a gamble late in the third quarter. Mike Garren took a short snap out of punt formation but was stopped at Hug's after a 2-yard gain by Tommy Franklin and Anthony Murray - well short of the first-down marker.
"We felt that was a good time to take a chance," Rippee said. "We were down 13-0, we'd been holding them. It was just one of those things, if you make it, you look good. If you don't make it, you look bad."
The Hawks capitalized on the break when Barlow swept the left end and cut back inside on his way to a 19-yard touchdown run on a third-and-6 play, extending the lead to 19-0.
An interception by Alan Thomas set up Hug's final score, a 3-yard touchdown run by Martin with 4:14 left to play.
Monte McCann rushed for 72 yards on 13 carries to lead the Douglas running game.
Brandon Shupe came up with two quarterback sacks to aid Douglas defensively in the first half.
"I'm very, very proud of these guys," Stallworth said. "Everyone's been talking that we haven't played anyone yet, but when you're talking about a program like ours that has only had one winning season in the last 10 years, we take every win we can get."
In the preliminary game, Hug's frosh-soph squad scored 35 points in the first half and held on for a 42-32 win over the Douglas freshmen.
Isaac Porter scored on a 42-yard run to give Hug a 42-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Douglas came back thanks to Eric Emm's 65-yard TD pass reception from Kyle Luken, a 3-yard TD run by Robert Doud in the fourth quarter (set up by Brian Brady's drive-stopping interception at the Douglas 7) and Richard Nalder's 60-yard fumble return on the final play of the game.