Through the first half against Carson Friday night, it seemed the Douglas football team simply couldn't settle into a rhythm.
Coming back out of halftime, however, it seemed there was little anyone was going to be able to do to get them out of rhythm.
The Tiger defense came up with four interceptions to help lead Douglas to a 48-20 win on senior night in Minden.
"This was probably one of the greatest feelings of my life," said Tiger senior corner back Nico Barker, who had one of the interceptions. "We were so pumped up for this game and to have it come out like this is great."
Carson played Douglas tight through the first half as the Tigers carried a 13-6 lead into the locker rooms. Douglas scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second half, though, and didn't allow the Senators to cross the midfield line until seven minutes remained to cruise to the win.
"We know we're a second half team," Barker said. "We knew we had to pick it up and play Douglas football. Once we did, things started coming together."
Douglas got things going early when Carson botched a snap while attempting to punt and downed the ball at their own 21-yard line.
Tim Rudnick, who finished the game with 257 yards and three touchdown passes, hit Eric Guzman with a 16-yard pass to the five and Jordan Cruz punched the ball in on the next play to give Douglas the early 7-0 lead.
Cruz had 116 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in the game.
The route appeared to be on after Carson punted on its next drive and Douglas drove 59 yards on six plays to score on a 38-yard pass from Rudnick to Zach McFadden.
Carson got right back into it, however, as Robert Figueroa returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Tiger 40 and Blake Plattsmier completed three of four passes, the last being a 16-yard touchdown pass to Steven Fowzer, to cut the lead to 13-6.
The second quarter was a collection of penalties and oddities as the teams were flagged a combined nine times for 68 yards, including one stretch where flags were thrown on six consecutive plays.
Douglas also had a potential 40-yard touchdown pass from Rudnick to Cruz called back on a hold and on perhaps the most bizarre play of the night, a 50-yard field goal attempt by Carson fell well short and rolled dead at the Douglas 1-yard line. No player ever touched the ball, but the play was blown dead and the Douglas' ensuing drive spotted at the 1.
"We were a little out of rhythm in the first half," Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. "We settled down, the kids were focused and they were ready to play this game.
"We knew if we came out, got rid of the mistakes and the penalties, that good things would happen.
"Carson was ready to play, though. Blair Roman has done a great job getting this team ready. This was their playoff game. They have come a long way this year, we've watched a lot of film and they were very close to having at least two more wins. They got better every week and they did things tonight to get us out of rhythm."
Douglas punted on its opening drive of the second half, but Garrett Tenney picked off a pass on four plays later to set the Tigers up at the Carson 40.
Cruz punched it in from 7 yards out four plays later.
Carson was just two plays into its next drive when Tanner Thomas stepped in front of a pass, intercepted it and returned it to the Carson 12.
A series of penalties on three consecutive plays pushed the Tigers back to the 35, but Rudnick hit McFadden in stride for a 35-yard touchdown pass and the 27-6 lead.
"The turnovers helped," Rippee said. "That is a big part of the game and it got us into the end zone a couple times tonight."
Douglas forced another Carson punt on the next drive and Cruz again finished with a 3-yard run to cap a five-play, 36-yard scoring drive.
Rudnick later threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Connor Dillon and Brad Gonzales returned a kickoff 96 yards for the Tigers' final score.
Carson tacked on a pair of late touchdowns on identical two-yard runs from Luke Carter.
Plattsmier finished with 147 yards passing, Carter had 104 yards rushing and Erik Roberson ran for 63 yards. Fowzer caught five passes for 51 yards to lead the Senator receivers.
McFadden led the Douglas receivers with 109 yards on five catches, Dillon had two catches for 72 yards, Austin Neddenriep had two catches for 16 yards and Eric Guzman, Barron Santiago, Cruz and Luis Pina-Duarte each had one catch. Pina-Duarte accounted for Douglas' remaining interception.
Douglas next turns is attention to the first round of the playoffs, where they will likely face Reed in Minden Friday at 7 p.m.
"Reed will be ready to come down here," Rippee said. "We got them early, caught some breaks, played them hard and good things happened.
"They bring an offense that can score at any time. They'll take a look at what we did. We'll get ready and hopefully it will be a great game."