Connor Jackson and Douglas High School football have re-established the power running game.
It’s been the Tigers’ identity for decades, but Friday night in Douglas’ 51-21 win over Galena, it was different.
Even on third and fourth down with six-plus yards to go, the Tigers didn’t need to stray from handing it to their senior feature back.
Jackson, who punched in four touchdowns in the win, tallied up 303 yards rushing on the ground, unofficially.
“Our line was getting downfield,” said Jackson. “A lot of hard work in the weight room. Everyone is working together and we have a really good connection. You can see it on the field.”
Jackson isn’t lying.
You can see the difference this season has made on the Tiger sideline.
The exuberance from the players and the coaches is hard to miss.
In the second half, Jackson twice escaped for runs of 50-plus and his Douglas teammates followed from the bench.
His first outburst came over the stretch of 63 yards in the Tigers’ first drive out of the locker room.
Douglas capped the drive with Jackson Ovard finding Trace Estes on a fade route.
Even fullback Andrew Strand got in on the power run game, hyping up the Tiger sideline on a bulldozing 40-yard run that set up a Douglas touchdown to go ahead 38-21 late in the third quarter.
From there, Jackson and Evan Youmans added the final scores of the game with Youmans picking up a 33-yard touchdown run to give Douglas a 45-21 lead.
Jackson’s final touchdown, which went 51 yards, put the senior back over the 300-yard mark. It was his 14th score of the season.
“The atmosphere this year, it’s just a different feel. There is a fire lit under us. The past two years have been kind of a grind,” said Douglas defensive back Zach Westbrook. “This year, we’re just playing ball.”
Head coach Kyle Mays echoed the same sentiment.
“It’s a little overwhelming emotionally because we did go through so much adversity the last two years,” said Mays. “These kids have put in so much work and they have such a strong belief in each other right now.”
(Douglas High defensive back Zach Westbrook celebrates after returning an interception 25 yards for a score in the Tigers' 51-21 win over Galena. / Ron Harpin)
Douglas had to respond after taking a jab rom the Grizzlies in the opening quarter.
Galena led 14-0 after hitting on a 68-yard touchdown reception over the top of the Tiger defense.
After being held scoreless on its first two drives, Douglas didn’t have long to wait to get a spark.
Estes grabbed the ensuing kickoff, starting to his left before breaking back right, and brought it down to the Grizzly seven.
On Douglas’ first play following the long return, Connor Jackson punched in a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Tiger defense responded with a three-and-out, allowing the Tiger offense to get back to work.
Andrew Strand got the initial first down on a 11-yard fullback dive before Jackson broke out his longest carry of the opening half.
Jackson broke 36 yards to give Douglas another red zone possession.
Two plays later, Ovard found Estes on a quick screen for a 14-yard touchdown reception.
Down 14-12, Douglas attempted an onside, but didn’t recover.
It didn’t hamstring the defense as the Tigers posted another three-and-out.
The offense returned the favor with a 50-yard drive, ending in six points on a 12-yard carry by Jackson.
The final score before the half was a pick-six by Westbrook, who jumped a route and earned the six point after fighting off a pair of Grizzly offensive players.
“They were running an empty set and then motioning the second guy over to quads. Every time they had run a five-yard curl,” said Westbrook. “After they ran it a couple of times, I knew they were throwing it there.”
In nine minutes and three seconds, Douglas went from trailing 14-0 to leading 24-14.
Over the final three quarters, the Tigers outscored the Grizzlies 51-7.
UP NEXT: Douglas (5-1, 1-0 in Class 5A Div. III league play) will host Hug (1-5, 0-1) next Friday in Minden.
Carson 17, Hug o (Thu.)
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Reed 42, McQueen 7
Bishop Manogue 38, Spanish Springs 6
Truckee 35, Fallon 22
Damonte Ranch 16, Reno 12
Elko 42, Lowry 0