Tigers nearly stun No. 1 Lancers in overtime thriller

For an entire glorious second half of football, it appeared the Douglas High School football team was going to end its 14-year drought against the McQueen Lancers.

It appeared that nothing " not playing their home-opener 45 miles away from home, not the Lancers' gigantic defensive line, not their superstar receiver Josh LaGrone, not even the McQueen mystique " was going to deny the Tigers their first-ever win over the long-time Nevada football power.

But in the end, a 10-yard touchdown scamper and three remarkably questionable calls from the officiating crew were all that stood between the Tigers and possibly one of the most stunning upsets in the school's history as McQueen running back Styker Ngongoseke punched through the winning touchdown in overtime of a 34-31 win for the Lancers.

"We were certainly capable," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "That second half, if we play two halves like that, we easily win this ball game. The bottom line is we didn't play like we needed to in the first half."

The second half, for Douglas, was nothing short of a thing of beauty.

The Tigers entered the locker room trailing 28-14 and came out unwilling to give an inch defensively.

McQueen gained a first down on a 16 run by Kyle Stewart to open the half and did not get another until midway through the fourth quarter.

The Tigers clamped down in the meantime, holding the Lancers to just 23 total yards in the third quarter while completely shifting the tide on McQueen.

Phil Mannelly sacked McQueen quarterback Bryan Barnett at the Lancer 16-yard line, forcing a fumble that Sean Molina picked up and returned for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-21.

The Tiger defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession and received the punt at the Lancer 45.

Reese Kizer pounded a five-yard carry up the middle and on the next play rumbled 40 yards, again up the middle, for the touchdown and the 28-28 tie. McQueen appeared to have Kizer tied up at the 25, but he brushed that tackle off, his third broken tackle of the run, and scampered into the end zone.

Kizer finished the game with 146 yards on the ground on 27 carries.

Douglas again forced a McQueen three-and-out late in the third quarter and Tyler Tinstman had a blistering punt return from his own 41-yard line that set the Tigers up at the 11.

Kizer carried it up the middle three times for 10 yards but a David Laird pass was bobbled in the end zone on fourth-and-short to end the threat early in the fourth quarter.

The defense again bottled up McQueen on the ensuing drive, stopping the Lancers at their own 16 before Sean Peralta forced a fumble after stopping McQueen's LaGrone on a nine-yard reception.

With the ball at the 24, Douglas again had a chance to take the lead, but after a short gain by Kizer and two incomplete passes, Douglas bobbled the snap on a 35-yard field goal attempt, turning the ball over to the Lancers at the 25.

And then things got very interesting.

Douglas again stopped McQueen, this time at the Douglas 47-yard line and Nate Whalin came around the end on fourth-and-five to block the punt.

The ball rolled past both Whalin and the Lancer punter where two other Tiger defenders attempted to reel it in. The duo collided before either could gain possession of the ball, however, and the ball was batted backward where the Lancers fell on it at the Lancer 42 with 3 minutes and 12 seconds remaining in the game.

The referees ruled that Douglas had gained possession of the ball in the scuffle and that when it was batted backward and McQueen fell on it, the Lancers had in essence recovered a fumble. As such, they were awarded possession and a new set of downs.

In arguing with the officiating crew about the call, Rippee was flagged for a 15-yard penalty, which set McQueen up at the Douglas 42.

McQueen drove down the field and set itself up to win the game with a field goal with 14 seconds left on the 9-yard line. The Lancers got flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, one of their nine for 85 yards on the afternoon, and were pushed back to the 35-yard line. Barnett attempted a pass into the endzone with two seconds remaining, where it was picked off by Niko Saladis.

Douglas then kneeled down to run out the clock in regulation.

In overtime, Kizer carried the ball three times for seven yards and punched through a 20-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 31-28, but Ngongoseke took the Lancers' opening play from scrimmage in overtime 10 yards for the winning touchdown.

Earlier in the first half, McQueen had built a 16-6 lead when it became the beneficiary of two other extremely questionable calls.

On third-and-eight from the Tiger 11, Barnett scrambled to the corner where he lunged with the ball outstretched for the end zone. The ball left his hand at the 1-yard line, glanced off the pylon and into the end zone. It was ruled a touchdown, when general procedure would be the ball is turned over the the opposing squad and ruled a touchback. McQueen came away from the play with a 22-6 lead.

Two drive later, Barnett attempted a lateral pass to LaGrone, which slipped through LaGrone's hands and was recovered by Douglas. The whistle was not blown for a good five seconds after the recovery. By rule, a dropped lateral is equivalent to a fumble.

The side judge blew the whistle well after the Douglas recovery, however, and ruled it an incomplete pass.

On the ensuing play, Barnett found LaGrone deep froma 57-yard touchdown pass, putting the Lancers up 28-6.

Douglas got its first score when Brent Koontz picked off a batted pass at the Lancer 25-yard line and returned it for the score.

The Tigers put together its longest, and perhaps best, drive of the game just before halftime.

Douglas methodically moved the ball downfield, mixing up eight runs with three passes before David Laird kept the ball for a one-yard touchdown run. Tyler Tinstman ran in the two-point coversion to cut McQueen's lead to 28-14 just before the half.

The Douglas defense was nothing short of dominant after solving some issues covering LaGrone, who finished with seven catches for 180 yards, 143 of which came on two first-half touchdown completions.

Phil Mannelly and Nate Whalin each had a sack, Koontz and Saladis each had interceptions, Whalin and Peralta each had a forced fumble, Cole Hamzik had a fumble recovery and Anthony Alvitre was next to unstoppable in the second half, blowing past the McQueen line for a number of big tackles for a loss.

Douglas (1-2) next plays Carson Saturday at noon at Manogue High School.

n Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.


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