After the Reno Huskies nearly swallowed the first quarter whole with a 19-play, 10-minute drive to open the game, the Douglas football team had trouble even getting into the game from that point on.
While Reno didn't score on the opening drive, the aftershocks from it changed the complexion of the entire game as the Huskies scored two touchdowns on the following three drives of the game, propelling themselves to a 21-7 victory to take charge of the Sierra League title race Friday night in Minden.
"We just didn't seem right at the beginning," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "We came out a little flat, but Reno just came out and outplayed us from the get-go."
A strong wind was blowing in from the south at kickoff, and Douglas opted defer to the second-half after winning the coin toss. Douglas chose to defend the south goal in an effort to take away some of Reno's passing game.
The Huskies started out on their own 18-yard line after a deep kick from Kyle Heidt and a short return from Reno.
"We had the wind and we felt we had good field position to start the game, but we couldn't stop them," Rippee said.
Reno proceeded to gain positive yardage on each of its next 13 plays and converted four third downs while driving to the Douglas 32 before the Tigers could make a stop.
"That first drive, you take most of that quarter off the clock and that in itself was big," Rippee said. "We couldn't make any big plays when we needed them.
"We just never seemed to get in synch defensively after that."
Reno's punt to end the drive pinned Douglas at its own one, but an 18-yard run up the middle by Brock Peterson set the Tigers' up at the 19.
Douglas quarterback David Laird was sacked for an 5-yard loss on the next play and Douglas was then called for delay of game, pushing the Tigers back to the 10.
Will Sheerin managed one yard on the last play of the quarter, which sent Douglas to the north end of the field to drive into the wind.
Laird dropped back for a pass on the first play of the second but the intended receiver batted the ball up into the air, where Reno's Glenn Wallace was waiting with open arms. Wallace returned the ball 21 yards for a touchdown and the 7-0 lead.
Things didn't go much better on the Tigers' second drive as the kick was returned to the 25 before being fumbled out of bounds.
On third-and-8, Laird was sacked again, this time for a 12-yard loss. The wind caused problems on the ensuing punt as the ball traveled out of bounds at the Douglas 27.
Reno gained 12 yards on the next two plays before Wallace, playing quarterback for the Huskies, took the ball 15 yards for another score. This time, he was leveled at the goal line and did not return to the game until late in the third quarter.
Douglas answered on the following drive, as Peterson set the Tigers up at the Reno 29 with a 32-yard carry.
Laird found Kyle Heidt for a 15-yard completion to bring Douglas to the 14, but Reno came up with another sack, this one for a seven-yard loss.
On fourth-and-17 from the 21, Laird found Zach McFadden wide open in the back of the end zone. McFadden made a leaping catch for the touchdown with 6:26 left in the half.
Reno drove back down, this time on eight consecutive gains for 66 yards culminating with Allen McKinley's 8-yard run untouched up the middle for the 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
"They just outplayed us offensively in the first half, but then their defense stepped up and took away what we like to do in the second half," Rippee said.
Reno linebackers Kevin Kahan and McKinley caused problems in the backfield for the Tigers all night as they helped Reno come up with six sacks for a total loss of 44 yards.
Douglas put together a few promising drives in the second half, but never got inside the Reno 25.
On the other side, the Tiger defense made some adjustments at halftime and didn't allow the Huskies to drive inside the Douglas 35 for the rest of the game, and allowedjust 57 second-half yards.
"I thought we did fairly well defensively in the second half, but we couldn't get it together offensively," Rippee said. "We had a lot of mental errors out there. A lot of things that need to be corrected, starting with me.
"We got beat on every aspect of the game and we have to get better " and we will."
Brennan Caverhill led Reno (4-2, 3-0) with 94 yards on 21 carries, while Wallace was held to jut 42 yards passing. McKinley had 53 yards on the ground.
For Douglas, Peterson finished with 98 yards and Laird threw for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Tanner Thomas picked off his fourth pass of the year.
With the loss, Douglas' win streak against Sierra League opponents ended at 10.
Douglas (4-2, 2-1) heads to Damonte Ranch next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game.
"We're not where we should be," Rippee said. "We're a team that is evolving each week.
"We need to keep getting better. We've played four tough teams " Reed, Manogue, Hug and Reno " and we've split those. There will be better teams down the road, so we don't have any other option than to get better.
"Everyone is playing for the home playoff game now and we have to keep showing up."