MINDEN - For as much as has been made of the Hug offense this year, it was the Hawks' defense that made the difference in a 28-6 Sierra League championship-clinching victory against Douglas on Friday night.
The Hawks (5-0 league, 7-1 overall) limited Douglas to just 75 yards on the ground and 221 yards in total offense.
"We got beat by a better team tonight," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said of the Hawks. "They outplayed us at times, but I am not disappointed in our effort. We made some mistakes and gave up the big plays and you can't do that against a good team like that because they are just too talented."
Douglas' front eight faced the daunting task of containing the Hawks' powerful rushers - Gabe Dobbins and Darren Shepherd. The two were fourth and fifth respectively in the Northern 4A rushing standings heading into the game.
The Tigers, however, with a combined effort from linemen Cory Fry, James Barnard, Ryan Guzman, Phil Mannelly, Bryan Barnard and linebackers Brent Koonts, Ryan Pruitt and Sean Molina, managed to keep Shepherd and Dobbins under wraps for most of the game.
Aside from Shepherd's second-quarter 76-yard touchdown run, the two combined for only 95 yards on 30 other carries.
"I was real happy with the guys up front defensively," Rippee said. "I think they played a hell of a game. We got after them and we gave up one big play, but other than that we contained them."
Hug, however, was able to answer the call with its passing game.
Quarterback Daryl Feemster completed eight of 10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, both to A.C. Hunter, and ran another in from 15 yards out to seal the game in the fourth quarter.
Douglas, on the other hand, struggled to get anything going offensively against Hug's huge front line.
The Tigers' managed only 30 yards on the ground and 27 yards through the air in the first half. They began finding ways downfield in the third quarter, as quarterback Roman Davis followed a four-yard keeper with 14- and nine-yard completions to Koontz.
Hug stalled both that and the following drive but the Tigers regained control of the ball at its own 32. Davis hit D.J. Brady for a nice 37-yard completion and Tyler Tinstman followed with a quick 20-yard run up the middle, marking Douglas most explosive combination of plays on the night.
Tinstman carried for another yard on the next play before Brady took a reverse handoff 11 yards for the Tigers' lone score of the game, breaking three tackles along the way.
"We're used to making plays around here and we didn't do that when we had to tonight," Rippee said. "I thought D.J. really did some great things for us, he was a step or two away from breaking a couple of more big plays and that always helps."
Brady caught three passes for 77 yards to lead the Tigers. Davis passed for 146 yards and Kizer led the team with 48 yards on 17 carries.
The loss leaves Douglas at 3-4 overall and 2-2 in league. The Tigers have now lost three of their four home games on the year and will wrap up their home slate next week against Reno.
"We've got two ways to look at it," Rippee said. "We can feel sorry for ourselves, and I really hope that is not what we are made of, or we can step up and play for our playoff lives now. We need to win another game to get in, we might as well do it next Friday right here."
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