Fake punt helps boost Douglas | RecordCourier.com

Fake punt helps boost Douglas

Last spring, Hunter Simpson emerged as a go-to pitcher for the Douglas High baseball team. Oh, and you should have seen the strike the senior threw Friday night for the Tigers in their critical Sierra League football contest against Galena.

Faced with a fourth-and-9 situation midway through the first quarter, Simpson saw an opportunity to throw the ball from punt formation and responded with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Kane Hoyopatubbi to give the Tigers a lead they never relinquished en route to a 37-23 playoff-clinching victory in Galena's homecoming game.

"That's something I check, to see if anyone is out there guarding Kane," said Simpson, who ranked among the Northern 4A leaders in strikeouts and innings pitched during the baseball season.

Offensively speaking, Douglas sputtered after starting its first possession at the 30. The Tigers took the ensuing punt and started a drive from the 30, however, they needed two fourth-down conversions to move the chains. First came a fourth-and-8 conversion when Haydn Brown caught an 8-yard pass from quarterback Hunter Hickey to the Douglas 47 and then Ryland DeSomber bulled for a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-2 to Galena's 41.

Next, after two runs gained one yard and a Hickey pass fell incomplete, Simpson lined up in punt formation. With a stiff wind blowing downfield and from left to right, Simpson spotted Hoyopatubbi wide open down the sideline. Hoyopatubbi ran underneath the throw for his reception of the season, then eluded one defender on his way to the end zone.

"He was open, but I thought I'd overthrown it. When I saw him slow down and get his hands on the ball, I knew he had it," Simpson said.

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CASE FOR THE OFFENSE: Douglas only needed three plays to score on its second possession when Dawson Coman cut back on the right side and burst 44 yards a touchdown. Later, the 5-foot-7, 165-pound senior dashed 97 yards for his third kick return touchdown of the season (10th touchdown overall). The offensive unit collected its other two touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to start the third quarter. First, Hickey scored on a 3-yard run to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive. Then after Nick Pedroza recovered a fumble, Hickey scored on a 1-yard run to cap a seven-play, 43-yard drive to make it 37-16. "I think our kids showed great character in the third quarter when they came out with two sustained drives to respond from a mediocre first half," coach Ernie Monfiletto said. "I was concerned because that Galena team still has a lot of talent. They've lost a lot of players (for various reasons) since the start of the season, but they're still playing hard."

CASE FOR THE DEFENSE: Galena only ran nine offensive plays and gained seven yards total going into the wind on its first three possessions. The Tigers set the tone on the game's opening series when Austin Aikens delivered a big hit on a third-and-4 run to force Galena into a three-and-out. The Grizzlies trailed 16-0 after an errant snap sailed into the end zone for a safety with 2:57 left in the first quarter, however, they rallied to pull within 23-16 at halftime. After extending its lead in the third quarter, the Douglas defense came up big to prevent the Grizzlies from getting back in the game. First, Pedroza intercepted a pass at the goal line with 48.7 seconds left in the third quarter. Galena quarterback Derek Kline scored on an 11-yard run with 8:19 to go, however, the Tigers held on fourth-and-4 from the 48 and got another fourth down stop at the 12 with 1:28 showing on the clock to seal the victory. Monfiletto mentioned the performances of sophomore tackle Andrew Browning and Aiken, a junior nose guard/defensive end. Aiken also had a second-quarter sack, while Reagan Roberson and Greg Sinotsky collaborated on a key first-down sack in the third quarter.

Douglas 37, Galena 23

Douglas 16- 7-14- 0 — 37

Galena 0-16- 0- 7 — 23

First quarter

D — Hoyopatubbi 40 pass from Simpson (Gurule kick), 6:00

D — Coman 44 run (Gurule kick), 3:49

D — Safety, ball kicked out of end zone, 2:57

Second quarter

G — Sluchak 27 field goal, 5:52

G — Smithers 34 pass from Kline (kick failed), 1:15

D — Coman 97 kick return (Gurule kick), 1:01

G — Corcoran 4 pass from Kline (Sluchak kick), :00

Third quarter

D — Hickey 3 run (Gurule kick), 8:41

D — Hickey 1 run (Gurule kick), 5:18

Fourth quarter

G — Kline 11 run (Sluchak kick), 8:19

Individual statistics (unofficial)

Rushing — Douglas (45-196): Coman 8-100, DeSomber 20-79, Hickey 14-11, Williams 3-6. Galena (31-215): Dennis 10-68, Brandt 9-67, Kline 7-45, Corcoran 5-35.

Passing — Douglas: Hickey 7-9-0-71 (one sack, 11 yards), Simpson 1-1-0-40. Galena: Kline 19-36-1-190 (two sacks, 8 yards).

Receiving — Douglas: Roberson 2-36, Hoyopatubbi 1-40, DeSomber 1-12, Harker 1-10, Coman 1-6, Brown 1-6, Williams 1-1. Galena: Smithers 5-68, Brandt 3-24, Dennis 2-13, Derevianko 2- 11, Pezonella 2-10, Corcoran 2-6, Sakelaris 1-31, Rasmussen 1-27, Werbeckes 1-0.