First, Tyler Tinstman saw a wave of blue coming toward him. Then, all of a sudden, the Douglas High junior was looking at an open green field on his way to an 83-yard kick return for a touchdown to start the second half to put the Tigers on track to a 53-19 victory against arch rival Carson on Friday night.
The touchdown was Tinstman's fourth of the night and ignited a surge in which Douglas scored two touchdowns in the opening minute of the second half and 20 points during a span of 4 minutes, 15 seconds to break open what had been a back-and-forth battle in the Sierra League opener for both sides.
By winning, Douglas picked up five points toward the Sierra Nevada Cup Presented by Les Schwab. This also marked the fourth straight win for Douglas in a series that dates back to 1923 (Carson leads the series 38-17-2).
Carson hurt its own cause with seven fumbles, three of which were lost, as well as an interception and an onside kick that Steve Passalaqua recovered for Douglas at the outset of the game. But, when all was said and done, there was no way to overcome giving up 53 points.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out," Carson coach Shane Quilling said. "It was a good game until that third quarter horse show. And every touchdown they scored came off major miscues on our part. They run the second half kickoff back for a touchdown on a play where we had the guy stopped. We fumble, and they score. Then we fumble again and that puts us in a hole again. A good team is going to take advantage of those types of opportunities and they're going to kick your butt."
Tinstman scored on runs of 8 and 56 yards - both of which came as answers to touchdown runs by Carson's Bryan Maffei - plus he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Roman Davis on a pivotal third-and-14 play in the second quarter. His kick return gave Douglas a 34-19 lead just 12 seconds into the third quarter.
"I saw Carson coming, and then I saw our guys take them out," Tinstman said of the return. "Tonight was all about blocking."
Then came the back breaker. Ryan Guzman recovered a fumble at the 15 for Douglas on the next play from scrimmage. Douglas only needed one play to score after that, as quarterback Roman Davis threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Pruitt coming out of the backfield to make it 41-13.
Carson's fortunes continued to snowball in the wrong direction on its first down play after the kickoff, as quarterback Chris McBroom mishandled the snap from shotgun formation and was taken down by Pruitt for a 19-yard loss at the 1. The Senators eventually punted and Douglas cashed in again, this time on a 5-yard touchdown run by Davis to make it 47-19.
Davis completed 7 of 9 passes, good for 113 yards and two touchdowns, though he was intercepted once. He also ran for two other touchdowns and turned in a solid performance on defense.
"Starting the second half the way we did was big and the return was what got us going," Davis said. "We always take pride in being a second half team and tonight everybody really stepped up."
Tinstman rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries, while Reece Kizer added 98 yards on 9 carries, including a 9-yard touchdown run at the end.
It all overshadowed a performance by Maffei, who rushed for 138 yards on 17 carries and scored from 25 and 37 yards out on Carson's first two possessions of the night.
Maffei did lose two fumbles, one on a punt return that gave Douglas new life after being stopped on three straight downs on its second possession of the night. Pruitt recovered the fumble at the Carson 42 and six plays later, Tinstman scored on an 8-yard run.
The game's turning point may well have come before halftime when Douglas protected its 27-19 lead by stopping Carson on back-to-back possessions inside the 25. First, McBroom was forced to scramble on a fourth-and-5 play and stopped for a 1-yard loss by Phil Mannelly. Then in the final minute, after Carson moved to the 21, a pass to Maffei was stopped for a 10-yard loss and McBroom threw incomplete as time expired.
"The defense turned it around for us big time," Davis said. "Everybody took care of business."
McBroom was 6-for-15 passing for 65 yards, plus he scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to bring Carson within 20-19 early in the second period. Scott Witter caught three passes for 35 yards and Jason Dittenber caught one ball for 33 yards.
The Senators had their opportunities, according to Quilling.
"We had our chances," he said. "We played well enough to be up at halftime. It just comes down to us not being disciplined enough to do our job. It's not that we don't know what to do, we're not being disciplined enough to get it done. And until we start doing that, we're not going to be a good football team."
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.