Douglas pounds Hug, 41-8
There were no secrets to the Douglas High School football team’s 41-8 victory against previously unbeaten Hug Friday night in Harrah’s Bowl IX. No tricks. No mirrors.
The Tigers simply came out and played inspired football for 48 minutes, according to coach Mike Rippee.
“That’s a quality Hug football team,” Rippee said. “The bottom line tonight, it was no coaching or any scheming, it was kids coming out and playing with their hearts, all 50 of them. That was just a great win for our program.
Craig Bell caught a first-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Rippee and scored a back-breaking touchdown in the third quarter on a 52-yard fumble return while A.J. Reed rushed for 129 yards and another touchdown as Douglas (2-0, 3-1) remained tied for first-place with Reno in Sierra League play.
Douglas rushed for 267 yards as a team and scored on its opening two possessions to take a lead it never gave up.
It all started with defense, however, because Hug (1-1, 3-1) carried a 45-point scoring average into the game. The Hawks managed only 224 yards total offense against the Tigers, 87 of which came on a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.
“I stayed up all week seeing those guys run down the field 80 or 90 yards. I’d watch it on film and then I’d go dream about it,” Rippee said, flashing a wide smile. “We told the kids they would have to swarm to the ball because they’re so quick and elusive. We said that we would have to play physical and hopefully stay close enough that we could win it in the fourth quarter.”
As it turned out, the outcome was decided well before then.
The Tigers set the tone from the outset after they received the opening kickoff. Evan Bill broke a 26-yard run on a third-and-3 option play to ignite a seven-play, 53-yard drive. Four plays later, Rippee shook off a hit from Hug’s talented Alan Thomas in the backfield and spotted Bill with a 4-yard pass in the end zone for a 6-0 lead.
Hug went three and out on its first possession when junior outside linebacker Andy McIntosh sacked quarterback Thomas for a 10-yard loss on third down. Thomas, who had 254 yards in total offense for the Hawks in their 32-6 win at Carson the week before, was held to minus-8 yards rushing and 101 yards passing by the Tigers .
Several players contributed as the Douglas defense stopped Hug for negative yardage of five plays in the first half. McIntosh accounted for two of those losses, plus he intercepted a pass at the end of the first half. Senior nose guard Grant Hall and Nick Summers combined on another quarterback sack. Luke Rippee came up from his free safety position to stop a second down sweep for a 5-yard loss at midfield. Then there was the three-man front — tackles Dan McDonald and Nate Walsh along with Hall — that constantly harassed the Hawks along the line of scrimmage.
“Our defense played together as a team very well,” inside linebacker Jake Peterson said. “Our D line did an exceptional job. I think they deserve a lot of credit.”
The main objective was to prevent the Hawks from breaking long touchdown runs.
“What we were mainly trying to do was take the big play away from them because that seems to have been what got them off to their other wins,” McIntosh said. “We were trying to stop them before they could get in stride and start making their moves out in the open field.”
Douglas broke the game open at the outset of the second half after Hug turned the ball over on its first three possessions. The result was two touchdowns scored within 65 seconds of each other.
Hall recovered a fumble at Hug’s 30 on the first play from scrimmage. On the next play, Bill ran 25 yards to give the Tigers first-and-goal and then Peterson scored on a 1-yard run.
Mitchell Moore returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to give the Hawks a lift, but the momentum was extinguished moments later when defensive end Stormy Herald knocked the ball loose on a sweep near midfield. Bell scooped up the ball near the sideline and took it back all the way for a touchdown.
“I think when Bell returned that fumble, that’s what really got us going,” McIntosh said. “After Craig picked the ball up, I was running with him the whole way and there was nobody in front of him. It was just a great feeling.”
Bell intercepted a pass later in the third period, and after an exchange of punts, Rippee scored on a 3-yard run to extend the lead to 34-0.
Douglas forced yet another turnover when Peterson jarred the ball loose and McIntosh recovered the fumble at Hug’s 10. Four plays later, Reed scored on on a 2-yard run to make it 41-0 with 10:38 left to play.
The Hawks avoided a shutout when they drove 92 yards on 17 plays, capped by Moore’s 1-yard run.
“The major thing is that the kids came out ready to play a big game and they got after it,” Rippee said. “We didn’t make mistakes, we didn’t put the ball on the ground and that was a key thing for us. And our offense, when we got into that red zone, we scored. Our defense scored, our special teams were outstanding. It was probably one of the things I’ve ever been around where everybody just came together and we really played well.”
Bill rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries for the Tigers and Rippee was 6-for-12 passing for 68 yards and one interception.
The Tigers had plenty to celebrate afterward. Nevertheless, the celebration was short lived.
“I’m not getting to enjoy this one as much as I wanted because I had to worry about Wooster all weekend,” Rippee said, looking ahead to another vital league game this Saturday against Wooster in Reno. “Now, the key is to keep it up. Now that I’ve seen what they can do, I’m really going to be on them. That’s what they needed to do and they showed me. We’re by no means out of the woods.”
Peterson echoed that about facing Wooster (1-0, 1-3), a program deep in tradition that includes seven state championships since 1981.
“We have some big games we need to win,” the junior said. We have Wooster this week and that’s a big division game. We’ve got to beat them and go on from there.”
Spike Agosta returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown at the end of the first half and Eric Emm kicked a 35-yard field goal to help the Douglas J.V. team defeat Hug 38-14 in the preliminary game.
Agosta’s kick return gave the Tigers 28-8 lead with four seconds left before halftime. Emm was also 5-for-5 in the PAT department in addition to his field goal.
Douglas 41, Hug 8
Hug 0 0 0 8 — 8
Douglas 13 0 21 7 — 41
D–Bill 4 pass from Rippee (kick failed), 9:36
D–Bell 16 pass from Rippee (McIntosh kick), 4:58
D–Petersen 1 run (McIntosh kick), 10:52
D–Bell 52 yard fumble return (McIntosh kick), 9:47
D–Rippee 3 run (McIntosh kick), 2:05
D–Reed 2 run (McIntosh kick), 10:38
H–Moore 1 run (Moore run), 2:44
Rushing–Hug (39-124): Moore 14-76, Porter 10-6, Mackey 4-32, Thomas 7 (-8), Cuardo 4-22. Douglas (40-267): Reed 12-129, Bill 16-97, Rippee 7-27, Peterson 2-3, Beemer 3-11.
Passing–Hug, Thomas 7-16-2-101, McKinish 2-3-0-9. Douglas, Rippee 6-12-1-68.
Receiving–Hug, Moore 3-40, Hunt 3-27, Craig 2-35, Garcia 1-2. Douglas, Bell 2-32, McIntosh 2-27, Bill 2-9.
Note: Douglas now leads the Harrah’s Bowl series 6-3.