Tigers lose 31-30 heartbreaker to Manogue
The Douglas defense was downright dominating Saturday afternoon at Manogue.
Except when it came to those crucial third and fourth downs.
The Tigers limited the strong Miner running game, which had averaged over 200 yards a game over the first two weeks of the season, to just 170 yards (Including holding them to minus-1 rushing yard in the second half), but were crippled by breakdowns at inopportune times as Manogue hung on for a 31-30 victory.
Four of the Miners’ five scores (four touchdowns and a field goal) came on third and fourth-down situations, including a 65-yard scamper from quarterback Zach McElroy late in the first half and a fourth-and-goal, one-yard keeper from McElroy early in the fourth that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Miners only converted five of 13 third-downs but gained 136 yards on those 12 plays. They went for it on fourth down four times and converted three of those while gaining 34 yards.
“We just have to quit giving up the big play,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “Those mental breakdowns caught up to us. Those are things we have to correct.
“Their effort is there, the kids played hard and they shut down the run. (Defensive tackles) Zach Falanga and Trevor Hemsath) absolutely dominated the inside today. August Greth was playing both ways for us on the line and Shane Connelly stepped up and started to really lead this team. I couldn’t be more proud of them. But we have to make those stops on third and fourth downs and obviously that didn’t happen today.”
Douglas trailed 31-17 after McElroy’s keeper in the fourth but drove right back down the field to cut the score to 31-24 on a three-yard keeper from junior quarterback Sam Cochran, who saw his first varsity playing time in place of Zack Williams, who was out with an injured foot.
Cochran ran for 23 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing six passes for 72 yards.
“I’m very happy with how Sammy performed today,” Rippee said. “He was pressed into duty and led this offense to 30 points against a very, very good defense. He did a great job today.”
Douglas senior Ryen Ake took the ball 26 yards for a touchdown with 2:31 left, setting up what was to be the game-tying PAT but the snap was bobbled and Manogue stopped the desperation pass attempt.
From there, the Miners were able to run out the clock, thanks to a 20-yard completion from McElroy to Brennan Hogan on fourth-and-3 with 1:45 left.
Despite the loss, Ake, who had 34 carries for 199 yards and a touchdown, enjoyed a breakout game along with the offensive line of Trevor Shaffer, Matt Wylie, August Greth, Ben Reed, Zach Tierney and Spencer Fellows.
“I challenged those guys up front this week to be the ones to carry us and that’s exactly what they did,” Rippee said. “Ryen ran like the back we think he is. He did a great job and got a lot of yardage on second effort. He was strongest when we needed him in the fourth quarter.”
Douglas also got a 3-yard touchdown run from sophomore Conner Peterson and a 25-yard field goal from Nate VonAhsen in the first half.
After the teams had their respective opening two drives stall, Manogue got on the board with a 48-yard run from Gino Rossi.
The Miners forced a Douglas 3-and-out on the following series, the Tigers’ third of the game, and marched back down for a 15-yard field goal from Patrick Beauchamp, making it 9-0.
Douglas then strung together its first sustained drive of the game, getting its first first down with a minute left in the first quarter before capping a 14-play, 64-yard series with VonAhsen’s field goal.
Two plays later, VonAhsen picked off a McElroy pass, which set Douglas up at the Manogue 37.
Cochran capped a five-play drive with a six-yard run to take the lead at 10-9.
Douglas appeared to have Manogue stopped after forcing a third-and-12 at the Tiger 35, but McElroy scrambled out of a broken play for the 65-yard touchdown and 17-10 lead.
Douglas answered back on the following drive with an eight-play series that covered 73 yards and wrapped up with Peterson’s touchdown run.
The Tigers forced a fumble on Manogue’s next drive, but the Miners picked off Cochran on the first play of Douglas’ drive. Manogue wrapped up a wild first half with a 21-yard touchdown strike from McElroy to Brian Pierce.
The teams went scoreless through the third quarter as Manogue forced a fumble and Douglas’ Shane Connelly picked off a pass.
In the fourth, following McElroy’s and Cochran’s back-to-back quarterback keeper TDs, the Miner offense stalled at the Douglas 39, setting up just the team’s second punt attempt of the day. The snap sailed high over Ricky McDonald’s head, however, and Douglas’ Riley Griffith tackled him for a 29-yard loss, setting the Tigers up at the Manogue 31.
Ake carried carried the ball on the next three plays before breaking loose for the 26-yard score.
The Tigers will host North Valleys Friday at 7 p.m..