Football: Douglas falls flat against the Grizzlies in regular-season finale
It ranged from ugly to uncanny, sometimes on the same play.
It’s probably not what the Douglas Tigers, who seemed to be peaking at the right time after completely dismantling Spanish Springs last week, had envisioned for the final week of the regular season.
It’s certainly not how they wanted to come into the playoffs.
Douglas fell 30-29 in Reno Thursday night to a Galena squad whose only previous win on the year had come in a forfeit over Hug.
The two teams combined for a remarkable 14 fumbles, with Douglas losing five of those. Galena made the best of it, scoring 21 points off of turnovers in what proved to be the difference in the game.
“We just got completely outplayed, right down the line,” Douglas coach Mike Rippee said. “Offensively and defensive, it was a poor performance.
“That’s what happens when you don’t come ready to play. They beat us and that’s just the way it is. There was a lack of intensity, a lack of execution. It’s very disappointing to come this far, to fight back the way we’ve fought back this season and not show up ready to play a football game when it really matters.
“That’s as much my fault as it is anyone else’s.”
From the beginning, it appeared Douglas would have it’s hands full. The Tigers were without several key players due to injury, including tight end Trevor Shaffer – one of the best blockers on the line – leading pass-catcher and running back Ryen Ake, receiver/safety Austin Neddenriep, safety/kicker Nate VonAhsen, and receiver Nick Maestretti, who has missed the last three weeks with a shoulder injury.
The depleted passing game allowed Galena to key on the run and the Grizzlies made the best of it, holding standout sophomore Conner Peterson to a hard-earned 103 yards on 30 carries. Peterson had run for nearly 600 yards over the previous two games.
Still, the game never got out of the Tigers’ reach and Douglas nearly won it several times.
Trailing 30-23 with late in the fourth quarter, the Tiger defense forced a Galena three-and-out. The ensuing punt set Douglas up at its own 41 with 2:52 left.
Quarterback Zack Williams, who finished the night with 16 completions for 226 yards, found Peterson for a screen pass. Peterson rumbled for an 18-yard gain after getting a big block from Jackson Ketron, setting up a first down at the Galena41 with 2:47 left.
Williams completed passes to Steven Werth (four yards), Christian Neilander (five yards) and Conner Hughes (27 yards) to move the ball to the Galena 3. Hughes made a nice play on the ball and tip-toed the sideline to stay inbounds.
Williams plunged it in from a yard out two plays later to cut the score to 30-29.
Douglas elected to go for the win, calling a toss to Peterson, who ran left and was stopped just short of the goal-line.
Douglas then attempted an onside kick with 1:07 left, which cornerback Dillon Spates was able to rein in, giving the Tigers possession at the Galena 45.
The Tigers drove 20 yards on eight plays in 48 seconds before stalling on fourth down with 19 seconds left.
Williams appeared to have Peterson wide open on a swing for the first down, but a Galena lineman brushed it away before Peterson could get his hands on it.
Galena ran out the clock from there.
“Galena played with great heart and desire and they deserved to win tonight,” Rippee said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”
The loss breaks a three-game win streak for the Tigers, who were hoping the Galena game would be a chance to carry the momentum into the playoffs.
“Hopefully they have some pride left and the don’t want to end the season like this,” Rippee said. “That’s for them to determine.
“Sometimes in life you face a little disappointment. This is a football game. It’s not life or death. They’re young kids and we’ll see whether they want to continue to play or whether they don’t, simple as that.”
Douglas got on the board first when defensive lineman August Greth sacked Galena quarterback Tucker Melcher, jolting the ball loose and into defensive tackle Zach Falanga’s hands. Falanga returned it 34 yards for the touchdown and early 7-0 lead.
Douglas fumbled on its next possession, though, and Galena drove 35 yards in six plays as Melcher connected with receiver Eric Johnson for a 9-yard touchdown run.
Johnson kicked a 27-yard field goal on Galena’s next possession for the 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Douglas drove right back down, piecing together one of what would be only two extended drives in the game as Peterson capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, giving Douglas the 14-10 lead.
The Tigers, though, fumbled away each of their next two possessions. Galena made the Tigers pay on the second as Melcher connected with Johnson for a 16-yard score, putting the Grizzlies back up 17-14.
Johnson added a 26-yard field goal just before halftime to give Galena a 20-14 lead.
Douglas came out fired up for the second half, forcing a safety as Melcher was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, cutting the score to 20-16.
Galena’s next possession stalled at its own 20 and the fourth-down snap sailed over the punter’s head. Douglas recovered at the Galena 1 and Williams punched it in two plays later to give Douglas a 23-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Another Douglas fumble with a little more than 10 minutes left set Galena up at the Tiger 48. Melcher again connected with Johnson, this time from 27 yards out to put Galena up for good at 27-23 with 9:42 left.
Johnson nailed a 50-yard field goal with the wind to his back on the Grizzlies next possession for what would prove to be the biggest play of the night. Galena held off the late Tiger charge from there.
Douglas had sacks from Falanga, Riley Griffith and August Greth in the game while Christian Neilander caught eight passes for 133 yards.
Peterson had four catches for 30 yards and Werth had four catches for 29 yards.
Douglas dropped to 4-5 on the year overall and 4-4 in league play. They will travel to Reed next Friday for the first round of the playoffs at 7 p.m.