MINDEN - It took a little while for them to get rolling, but once they did, it would have been hard to tell that the Douglas Tigers had new faces at nearly every skill position Friday night against Reno.
Reno utilized a fairly balanced attack and rolled up 24 first-half points in a 41-14 win over Douglas Friday night in the Tigers' home finale, but Douglas managed to find a bit of a rhythm on offense in the second half to put two scores on the board.
"We have to start doing that earlier," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "We haven't been able to put many points up in the first half all year. That's definitely something we have to work on.
Douglas, however, was without 13 players for the game, suspended earlier in the week due to violations of the school's policy on alcohol.
Among the new faces in the starting lineup for the Tigers were quarterback Cole Hamzik (who passed for a team season-high 185 yards), running back Julius Bailey (153 yards on the ground) and receiver Michael Koerner (53 yards on three catches and a touchdown).
"We had some guys really step up tonight and show us they were ready to play," Rippee said. "The whole team played about as hard as you can play. We just got beat by a better team tonight.
"There aren't any excuses. I don't want to hear any of that 'Well, if we just had this guy or that guy,' because that is baloney. We played hard and got beat. Now we have to win in order to keep our season going."
The Tigers take on Wooster next Saturday in the season finale for both teams.
"We hope the guys will show up with that intensity this week," Rippee said. "We hope that will come from these young men that want to extend their season. I know I want to extend it. I'm not in this for moral victories."
Douglas, which had most of its defensive unit - including the entire defensive front and linebacking crew - intact after the suspensions, managed to hold Reno on the first possession and then allowed just a field goal through the first quarter.
A couple of defensive breakdowns in the second quarter led to three touchdowns, which was all Reno would end up needing.
"Defensively, we can't allow them to put 41 points on the board and expect to compete," Rippee said. "That's something we really need to address."
Douglas got things rolling in the third quarter when Hamzik began to find a comfort zone in the pocket. He completed four passes for 55 yards to Steve Passalacqua and four passes to tight end Brent Koontz for 61 yards.
The Tigers first got on the scoreboard with 1:39 left in the quarter as Hamzik found Koerner in the shallow corner of the end zone for a 17-yard pass. Koerner turned and wrestled the ball away from the defender at the last second for the score.
Bailey broke free for a number of big runs late in the fourth, finally punching in a two-yard run with 2:19 left in the game after runs of 20 and 28 yards.
Douglas had another breakout game on defense from Anthony Wedlock, called up for the game to play safety. He was in on a number of tackles, and intercepted a pass in the third quarter that set up the Tigers' first scoring drive.
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